Pinellas County’s Commission is slowly deciding how they want to pay for over $400 million in transportation services. After several meetings, almost half of the commissioners are leaning towards a 2020 referendum on sales taxes. The final decision will be made as soon as they receive a few more briefings from the county administrator, Barry Burton.
At the Heart of the Debate…
Commissioners Pat Gerald, Ken Welch, and Dave Eggers are all in support of a sales tax while Charlie Justice, Karen Seel, Janet Long, and Kathleen Peters say they need more information before deciding as to how to fund the transportation service. The one thing they all agree on is that for decades now there have been county wide traffic jams requiring the expansion of the area’s transit system. They started looking at this in January when Hillsborough County approved a 1% sales tax increase for such projects. However, they wanted to make sure to clearly identify the county’s needs prior to deciding on the best long-term funding option.
County administrator, Barry Burton has created a presentation for the public focusing on ways to reduce congestion, improve safety, and enhance transit. He proposes the following spending:
- $21 million for buying 29 buses that’ll provide 29 buses for additional transportation services along U.S. 19 S and Alt 19 S along with Roosevelt Blvd (a.k.a East Bay Drive) and an additional $10 million for operating these bus routes
- $35 million for syncing stoplight timing along all the area’s major corridors
- $40 million for installing streetlights along the major streets to help reduce the number of crashes at night
- $49 million to pay for intersections that’d include an increased number of turn lanes
- $50 million to pay for safety projects (e.g. crosswalks with flashing lights)
- $73 million to fill 120 miles of gaps in the area’s sidewalks
Estimated overall costs for all these projects is $400 million with an additional $31 million for annual operating costs. Not all these projects will be funded either.
Funding These Projects
Another option for funding would be to increase the gas tax by 5 cents. Within 10 years this would raise $179 million. However, a 25-cent increase would raise $500 million in this same time period.
Some have also considered a property tax increase. They suggest charging an additional $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. This would raise $79 million for a general fund and $68 million for transportation services.
Although the commission agrees that upgrading the area’s transportation is necessary, they don’t agree on how these upgrades should be paid for. Those in favor of increasing the sales tax say this will raise more money while other options will only make a small dent in the funds that are needed to make these improvements.
Businesses in the area will benefit from an upgraded transportation service. This will make it easier for them to use companies like Same Day Delivery to deliver their packages to their customers on the same day on which they were ordered. You too can take advantage of this company’s great services simply by getting in touch with them today.