Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday February 1, 2015 PSTA a bleak future

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

This past Wednesday Brad Miller, PSTA CEO, laid out the PSTA fiscal forecast for the next few years. Things are dismal to say the least.

By fiscal year 2018, PSTA faces an almost insurmountable capital and operating budget deficit.

In many ways this is a self inflicted wound.

At this point, given the horrendous defeat the Greenlight plan took at the poles and all of the improper and inappropriate activity of PSTA leadership and its supporters to get the Greenlight plan adopted, it is hard to say that a more conservative approach might have worked.

PSTA and its Board would like the voters to believe they are responsible for the current PSTA plight and that Greenlight was defeated because voters were greedy and didn't want another tax.

I for one don't buy that for one minute.

As I have stated before, the Greenlight Ordinance was the worst tax initiative Ordinance I had every read. You can go back in my Posts and refresh your memory about the Greenlight Ordinance at GreenLight Pinellas - An Analysis of Ordinance 13- 34 .

As I sat through the Wednesday PSTA Board meeting, it was hard to feel very sympathetic for an administration and a Board that tried to put one over on the public and got their hands slapped.

Public transportation here in the bay area is in real trouble. In Polk, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee County voters have rejected grand plans to build transit systems. I don't know how many times public transportation authorities and their Boards of directors have to get boxed about the ears before they realize a more conservative approach is more likely to work.

In his comments to the Board, Miller mentioned a more "regional" approach, that is simply political speak for we have to get these funding issues out of the reach of actual public approval. Those watching PSTA, Hart and other transit authorities must remain diligent.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn's public transit funding idea of a "local taxing district", Saintpetersblog, Janelle Irwin: Tampa Mayor’s push for special taxing district could be St. Pete transit win, is not likely to fly either since it would tax a small area and apply the tax to a county wide problem. Not the brightest idea for a guy thinking about running for Governor.

Miller proposed some ideas to smooth out the PSTA budget problems, and the whole issue of Federal and State funding remains a big unknown.

The PSTA Board has three new members and a new Chairman. On February 18, they will take up the PSTA funding issue in a budget workshop. They have a lot to chew on.

Where will PSTA go, how will it get there and where will the money come from? The PSTA Board has some tough decisions to make, and so far this Board has been lackluster at best.

Let's hope that some new blood and a new Chairman can make a difference.

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