This Post continues a 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.
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.
Section 9. Severability. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, or provision of this Ordinance is for any reason held invalid or unconstitutional by any Court of competent jurisdiction, such holding shall not be construed to render the remaining provisions of this Ordinance invalid or unconstitutional.
This Section is extremely important in this Ordinance given its poor construction. Legal challenges are almost a certainty. Any successful legal challenge to a specific Section of the Ordinance does not affect the remaining Sections.
In other words it would require a legal action challenging the entire Ordinance to cause a full repeal if you vote to make this Ordinance a law; something that would be lengthy, costly and unlikely to happen.
Section 10. Inclusion in the Pinellas County Code. The provisions of this Ordinance shall be included and incorporated in the Pinellas County Code, as an addition or amendment thereto, and shall be appropriately renumbered to conform to the uniform numbering system of the Pinellas County Code.
This Section requires that should the Ordinance be approved by voters it will become part of the Pinellas County Code. That means it has the full force of law, and requires significant and often complicated legal action to change or modify it once approved by the Voters.
This Ordinance has been crafted by PSTA to be a broad as possible, with few controls, no reporting requirements and undefined interlocal agreements.
While it appears that the County may be in control, actually do to the overlapping of County Board of Commissioners and the PSTA Board and the number of elected officials whose jurisdictions could or will benefit from the way the sales tax monies are spent and the lack of defined controls; the PSTA will actually be in control.
PSTA will control the money so PSTA Board members who are elected officials could be put in a position of following PSTA suggestions if they want their jurisdictions to be part of the plan.
Section 11. Filing of Ordinance; Effective Date. In addition to the notices to the Department of Revenue as provided herein, pursuant to Section 125.66, Florida Statutes, a certified copy of this Ordinance shall be filed with the Department of State by the Clerk within ten ( 10) days after the enactment by the Board. This Ordinance shall become effective upon filing of the Ordinance with the Department of State.
This Section requires filing of the Ordinance within ten days of enactment by the board, although there is no clear indication of what provisions must be in place for the Board to approve.
This Post concludes my Section by Section analysis of the proposed sales tax ordinance. As I have previously stated this is the most poorly crafted Ordinance I have ever read, unless you happen to be the PSTA in which case I must admit it is close to brilliant.
The PSTA is a taxing authority whose governing board is NOT elected directly for the service to PSTA, that wants you to agree to tax yourself for nearly 100 years for a train that is more about redevelopment than it is about public transportation.
It's a bad plan...It's a bad deal....It's a bad law.
The only sensible vote on November 4, 2014 is NO