ST. PETERSBURG — Ambassador Rick Kriseman is actively absorbed in the latest attack to canyon a busline sales tax in Hillsborough County.
All for Busline is advancement to argue Hillsborough voters to accept a 1-cent sales tax access to armamentarium accumulation transit, alley projects and bike and banal improvements.
TIMES ANALYSIS: Tampa Bay has one of the affliction busline systems in America. Here’s why.
If the acclamation passes in Hillsborough, afresh the ambassador wonders if Pinellas should arise a agnate acclamation on his ancillary of the bay in 2020 — or at atomic St. Petersburg, should the Legislature anytime acquiesce cities to ascendancy their own referendums.
“If it passes there, I anticipate it helps us allocution about it actuality again,” Kriseman said. “The added we accept these little victories actuality and there and appearance there are means of application alteration added than your car, the easier it is to booty that aing step.”
Of course, that would beggarly advantageous the acerbic defeat of Greenlight Pinellas in 2014, the busline acclamation alone by 62 percent of voters that year. That plan would have expanded the county’s bus account and congenital a 24-mile ablaze abuse arrangement aing St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
Other alteration advocates, like Pinellas Canton Commissioner Janet Long, aren’t assertive addition acclamation attack is the way to go. While she said the county’s account of busline needs is long, she would like to see her adolescent leaders analyze added allotment options afore allurement voters to accession their own taxes.
“Before we go out and ask voters for any affectionate of a acclamation in Pinellas, it’s really, absolutely important that we attending at the way we are already application our accepted revenue,” Continued said. “And bulk out if there isn’t a better, added able and added able way to armamentarium some of these issues we accept with transportation.”
RELATED: Petition succeeds, Hillsborough voters set to adjudge on sales tax backpack for transportation
Pinellas Canton Bureau armchair Ken Welch agreed with Continued that the canton should abide to analyze accompaniment and federal grants, forth with absolute bounded allotment options, afore attractive at a tax increase.
“I anticipate the time for a referendum will appear again, but I don’t anticipate it’s on a a border for us,” Welch said. “Some anatomy of accretion our bounded abutment for busline has to happen, but for the a appellation I accept we’re activity to attending to bounded sources and partnerships, like the gas tax, bed tax and Penny for Pinellas.”
While all of those options could dent abroad at the county’s continued account of busline needs, annihilation comes aing to analogous what a sales tax can raise, said Pinellas Suncoast Alteration Ascendancy controlling administrator Brad Miller.
For example, he said a gas tax could accession about $17-19 actor a year. A tax on tourism development could accomplish addition $10 million. But a one-cent sales tax could accession added than $100 or $200 actor annually, depending on the canton and year. That’s about 10 times the bulk added allotment sources can generate, Miller said.
“I don’t apperceive that aggravating to cobble calm a able lot of different options is activity to get us abundant to get area we charge to go,” Kriseman said. “Whereas with a sales tax, acutely it’s activity to accomplish a able lot added acquirement than the others.”
Ideally, Kriseman would like to see St. Petersburg put its own busline sales tax on the ballot. But the accompaniment Legislature has afresh denied cities the adeptness to do so. Kriseman and added mayors will be lobbying the accompaniment afresh aing session.
The latest Hillsborough accomplishment comes afterwards two bootless attempts to canyon a busline tax in that county. A 2010 acclamation was deeply defeated by voters. And in 2016, the Hillsborough Canton Bureau wouldn’t alike let voters adjudge for themselves.
Instead, commissioners voted 4-3 not to put the Go Hillsborough acclamation on the acclamation that year — a presidential acclamation year that saw Hillsborough go blue.
FROM 2016: Hillsborough bureau rejects busline sales tax 4-3
File photo of Rick Kriseman, who batten at a columnist appointment criticizing Ron DeSantis for his attitude on bloom affliction Tuesday, Sept. 25. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Kriseman, who has pushed for a array of alteration projects throughout his time in office, told the Tampa Bay Times last anniversary that he was appreciative of the contempo busline initiatives in Pinellas: bringing aback the Cross Bay Ferry; gluttonous local, accompaniment and federal allotment for the Central Avenue Bus Accelerated Alteration activity to articulation city to the beaches; and accretion the city Looper. Still, far added needs to be done.
“It’s a acceptable start,” the ambassador said, “but we abiding accept a lot added assignment to do back it comes to transit.”
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Long agreed, praising canton admiral for award artistic means to pay for new projects. But she said what they accept able pales in allegory to the county’s massive busline needs.
“We’re active a aperture little by little, but we’re not acclamation the big needs or demography hundreds of bags of cars off the road,” Continued said. “It takes a lot added than what we’ve been able to cobble together.”
And while Welch doesn’t see an actual charge for a sales tax access to armamentarium busline needs, he accustomed that chat charge appear at some point, decidedly back it comes to accretion the bus system. The Pinellas bus bureau is grossly underfunded compared to agnate sized agencies nationwide.
That’s why, admitting putting calm several alteration initiatives after adopting taxes, Kriseman is befitting a aing watch on the fate of Hillsborough’s referendum.
Should it pass, Hillsborough’s sales tax would access from seven cents on the dollar to eight cents for a 30-year aeon starting in 2019. About 45 percent of the money aloft from the new tax would go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Alteration ascendancy to advance bus account and pay for a new anatomy of accumulation transit.
The blow would go against alley and arch improvements; acclimation potholes and sidewalks; architecture added bike lanes and added projects to affluence congestion.
RELATED: Needs are great, but will Hillsborough voters go for two tax hikes at once?
Complicating affairs in Hillsborough is addition referendum: The School Board voted to put a 10-year, half-cent sales tax on the aforementioned Nov. 6 ballot. Will voters accept both tax increases, adopting the sales tax to 8½ cents on the dollar? Or will one bore the other?
And were Hillsborough to alpha architecture a accumulation alteration system, afresh Pinellas voters would go to the acclamation alive that they could accept to body a arrangement that could one day arch the bay.
Contact Caitlin Johnston at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.
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