Monday, May 5, 2014

What Are You Actually Voting for in the Sales Tax Referendum?

Here is a link to the actual Ordinance (Law) that you are being asked to approve in the sales Tax Referendum: Greenlight Pinellas Tax Ordinance.

Actually you are not directly voting on the GreenLight Plan. You are voting to make Ordinance 13 -34 a law. This is an important distinction, because Ordinance 13- 34 will become a law if the referendum succeeds, the GreenLight Plan does not.

This Post begins a 12 Post series where we look at The Sales Tax Ordinance, Ordinance 13- 34, and compare it to what is being said by the sales tax supporters.

ORDINANCE  NO. 13- 34 
AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF PINELLAS COUNTY LEVYING THE CHARTER COUNTY AND EGIONALTRANSPORTATION SYSTEM SURTAX SUBJECT TO ELECTOR APPROVALAT A RATE OF ONE PERCENT; ESTABLISHING THE EFFECTIVE DATE OFTHE SURTAX; PROVIDING FOR ADMINISTRATION, COLLECTION, ANDENFORCEMENT OF THE SURTAX; PROVIDING FOR THE DISTRIBUTION, USE, AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF SURTAX PROCEEDS; CALLING FOR A REFERENDUM ELECTION FOR APPROVAL OF IMPOSITION OF THE SURTAX; PROVIDING A BALLOT TITLE AND SUMMARY OF THE PROPOSED REFERENDUM QUESTION; PROVIDING FOR NOTICE OF THE REFERENDUM ELECTION; PROVIDING FOR NOTICE TO BE GIVEN TO THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE PINELLAS COUNTY CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

The paragraph presented above in its format from Ordinance No 13- 34 is called the Preamble and appears at the top of the Ordinance document. The Preamble describes in legally acceptable terms what is in the Ordinance that follows.

Here is a Breakdown:

AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OFPINELLAS COUNTY LEVYING THE CHARTER COUNTY AND EGIONALTRANSPORTATION SYSTEM SURTAX SUBJECT TO ELECTOR APPROVALAT A RATE OF ONE PERCENT;
This Section establishes the Board of County Commissioners legal authority to levy the sales tax increase.

ESTABLISHING THE EFFECTIVE DATE OFTHE SURTAX;
This section establishes the County Board of Commissioners ability to set the effective date of the tax.

PROVIDING FOR ADMINISTRATION, COLLECTION, AND ENFORCEMENT OF THE SURTAX;
This section establishes the legal grounds for the administration and collection of the sales tax

PROVIDING FOR THE DISTRIBUTION, USE, AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF SURTAX PROCEEDS;
This Section sets up the overall responsibility for management of the proceeds of the sales tax.

CALLING FOR A REFERENDUM ELECTION FOR APPROVAL OF IMPOSITION OF THE SURTAX;
This section sets up the referendum mechanism and calls for a public vote.

PROVIDING A BALLOT TITLE AND SUMMARY OF THE PROPOSED REFERENDUM QUESTION;
This Section provides for the actual Ballot language you will see on your mail in or voting booth ballot.

PROVIDING FOR NOTICE OF THE REFERENDUM ELECTION;
This Section provides for public notice of the Referendum vote.

PROVIDING FOR NOTICE TO BE GIVEN TO THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE;
This Section provides for a legal notice to be sent to the Florida department of Revenue should the Referendum pass indicating the County will begin collecting the tax

PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE PINELLAS COUNTY CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY;
This Section does two important things. First should the Referendum succeed, it incorporates the language of the Referendum Ordinance No. 13- 34 into the County Code as Law and provides Severability which means if any Section of Ordinance No. 13- 34 is found to be illegal; the finding does affect any other Section of the Sales Tax Ordinance.

PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
This Section provides for the setting of an effective date for the implementation of the Sale Tax increase should the Referendum pass.

Comment
The Preamble contains a legally acceptable summary phrasing of the Sections that follow in the actual Ordinance that will become law.

In the next Post in this series we will look at the WHEREAS Section which establishes the motivation and methodology that caused the Sales Tax Ordinance and referendum to be proposed.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb)Friend request. See More of Doc at Bay Post Internet, and St.Pete Patch, Gulfport Patch, Clearwater Patch, Palm Harbor Patch, Largo Patch.
Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday May 4, 2014 The Sales Tax Ordinance

On November 4, 2014 Pinellas County voters are being asked to tax themselves and our visitors $100 Million dollars more for public transportation than they are now paying.

There has already been a lot of hype about the "Greenlight" plan but very little conversation about the actual Ordinance the voters are being asked to approve.

Ordinance 13-  34 was written by the PSTA, its legal staff and advisers and according to the Pinellas County Commission accepted with almost no
changes.

Here is a link to the Ordinance: Greenlight Pinellas Tax Ordinance

While Greenlight supporters would have voters believe that this Referendum is all about public transportation, the actual Ordinance says almost nothing about the Greenlight plan. In fact the term Greenlight is never defined and only appears twice in the entire Ordinance.

A word search of the document reveals the following

 WORD                                   OCCURRENCE
Greenlight                                          2
Bond(s)                                              5
Financing                                           2
Refinancing                                        2
Indebtedness                                      5
Interlocal agreement                           5
Bus                                                     8
Passenger Rail                                   4
Approve                                              2
Audit                                                   0
Report                                                0

Like most Ordinances, this one is long and the language can be a bit confusing. Voters need to take a look at what they are actually voting for in the Sales Tax Referendum.

Once approved this poorly crafted Ordinance becomes law and will be almost impossible to amend or repeal.

Beginning Monday May 5 and continuing for 4 weeks, I will present a series of 12 Posts that look at Ordinance 13- 34 in detail.

Please follow along and know what the Ordinance says before you vote. Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am opposed to Ordinance 13- 34 simply because I believe it is a poorly crafted Ordinance that provides instantaneous excessive revenue flow to PSTA, has virtually no financial controls or reporting requirements, allows the PSTA far too easy access to financing, and provides no mandates that the bus system will actually be expanded before the funds are obligated to bonds to build a passenger rail project.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb)Friend request. See More of Doc at Bay Post Internet, WATCHDOGWIRE-FLORIDA and St.Pete Patch, Gulfport Patch, Clearwater Patch, Palm Harbor Patch, Largo Patch.
Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks