Below are two lengthy Sections from the Interlocal Agreement between PSTA and Pinellas County that was approved at the June PSTA Board of Directors meeting.
SECTION 7. PLEDGE OF SURTAX NET PROCEEDS.
(A) In order to finance or refinance projects, PSTA may issue bonds or notes, enter into lines of credit, incur loans or other indebtedness, enter into concession, lease or similar agreements, and may secure payment obligations under such bonds, loans, notes, lines of credit or other indebtedness or pursuant to such concession, lease or similar agreements with a pledge of and lien on the Surtax Net Proceeds in accordance with the provisions of Section 212.055(1), Florida Statutes, and other applicable law, including any indebtedness refinancing such bonds, loans, notes, lines of credit or other indebtedness. Prior to the initial issuance of any indebtedness by PSTA, the Pinellas County Attorney shall approve the trust agreement or trust indenture (the "Trust Agreement") pursuant to which such indebtedness is to be issued. The County and PSTA agree that it is their intent that such approval be provided by the County Attorney prior to the date of the Surtax Referendum. Notwithstanding the foregoing, PSTA shall at all times comply with its debt policy referred to in Section 10 hereof.
(B) Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, to the extent permitted by law, in order to effectuate the purposes in PSTA's Greenlight Plan, PSTA may enter into leases or public private partnerships with concessionaires, and may secure its obligations to make lease, concession and other payments under lease and concession agreements with a pledge of and lien on the Surtax Net Proceeds in accordance with the provisions of Section 212.055(1 ), Florida Statutes. (C) Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the amount of indebtedness that may be incurred by PSTA to be secured by the Surtax Net Proceeds.
This Section provides the authority for the PSTA to obligate sales tax proceeds to the payment of bonds issued by PSTA. Once obligated, these funds cannot be reduced or used for any other purpose by PSTA or the County. The bond covenants will determine how the money is to be spent, and while the County may have some say in the structuring of the bonds, PSTA will really be in the driver's seat, because they will actually be spending the bond proceeds with limited County over sight.
We have already seen how liberally PSTA interprets rules related to spending money.
Upon the earlier of:
(A) completion of all steps to finance (including without limitation debt incurrence, and/or execution of public-private partnerships or leases), acquire, and/or construct all projects and capital improvements contemplated in PSTA's Greenlight Plan, as mutually determined by PSTA and the County (if the parties cannot mutually determine whether PSTA's Greenlight Plan has been completed, the parties shall engage a nationally recognized transit consultant acceptable to both Parties to make such determination);
(B) PSTA's decision to discontinue such steps to finance, acquire and/or construct substantially all of the projects and capital improvements contemplated in PSTA's Greenlight Plan;
(C) the occurrence of a Force Majeure;
(D) the fiftieth 50th anniversary of the date the Surtax is first levied and each 20th anniversary thereafter;
(E) a payment default under the Trust Agreement; or
(F) PSTA applying Surtax Net Proceeds for a purpose other than PSTA's Greenlight Plan,
the County and PSTA shall meet to discuss the particular event described in clauses (A) through (F) that has occurred and shall consider, depending upon the event, revising this Agreement, revising or adding to PSTA's Greenlight Plan, seeking further authorization for additional uses by PSTA of the Surtax Net Proceeds or reducing or increasing, if there has been a previous reduction and subject to the limitations of the Surtax Referendum, temporarily or permanently, the Surtax Net Proceeds. If the Parties are unable to agree on what action, if any, to take, after making a good faith effort, the County may take any legally required action to reduce the Surtax Net Proceeds distributed to PSTA. In determining what action to take, if any, pursuant to this Section 9, the Parties shall comply with the provisions of Section 29(B) hereof.
Any reduction of Surtax Net Proceeds distributed to PSTA as a result of an action or event described in clauses (C), (E) or (F) above shall be temporary and the County shall promptly begin distributing the full amount of the Surtax Net Proceeds to PSTA, including all amounts that were held back and actual interest earnings, if any, actually derived by the County, when the County determines, in its sole discretion, that such event or action has been cured or no longer exists. The foregoing shall not impose a duty on the County to invest any of such withheld amounts. The County shall determine, in its sole discretion, whether any reduction of Surtax Net Proceeds distributed to PSTA as a result of an action or event described in clauses 6 (A), (B) or (D) will be temporary or permanent. If the County determines to permanently reduce the distribution of the Surtax Net Proceeds, to the extent and as permitted by law, it may take such action as it deems necessary and is legally required to reduce the amount of the Surtax levy in accordance with this Section. Notwithstanding anything in this Section 9 to the contrary, any temporary reduction shall be limited to an amount that will not impair PSTA's ability to meet all of its then outstanding financial obligations under the Trust Agreement.
This Section sets up the conditions under which the sales tax would terminate. Note that (D) sets the life expectancy of Greenlight at 50 years but allows for two 20 year extensions.
That's 90 Years!
A baby born on January 1, 2015 when this Tax starts, will pay the tax their entire life, their children will pay it and it is not inconceivable their grand children may also pay it.
This amount of indebtedness for this length of time to develop 24 four rail stations for a train generally going to the wrong places; buying and selling a bunch of land and building tracks and buildings so a very few can get very rich is very, very wrong.
The law you are being asked to approve with your YES vote is just over 5000 words long. The Interlocal Agreement where the County attempts to put some control on PSTA is over 7000 words long. And we have just begun.
Don't mortgage your future, your children's future and grandchildren's future for a train that does not meet the core public transportation need and will cost millions more than the Greenlight plan contemplates.
Send the County, PSTA, TBARTA and Greenlight back to drawing board just like they did in Hillsborough County.
Greenlight is a plan that we don't need and cannot afford.
Vote NO November 4
Talk to you fiends and neighbors and be sure they know what they are voting for.
It's not public transportation. It's all about the money.
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Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks
Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks