Yesterday Pinellas County Commissioners decided not to pursue putting a transit tax on the November ballot.
Pinellas County's decision followed that of Hillsborough County who decided Wednesday, thanks to four commissioners Miller, Murman, Hagan and White with common sense, to ditch a transit tax referendum as we battle the Coronavirus emergency and its economic devastation.
There was a striking difference Pinellas commissioners displayed over what we saw by Hillsborough Commissioners. While three Democrat commissioners in Hillsborough (Smith, Overman, Kemp) wanted to keep pursuing a $16 Billion transit tax referendum during this crisis, there was much more consensus and agreement in Pinellas to ditch a November tax referendum.
Pinellas's discussion reflected more agreement their first priority must be the health and safety of their residents and their focus must be on the emergency at hand and its devastating economic impact.
What is questionable is why the meeting's agenda item was titled "Transportation Update" when it was actually about pursuing higher taxes and a transit tax hike referendum.
County Administrator Barry Burton had prepared a presentation for the transportation agenda item but his presentation was not attached to the agenda online. Burton's presentation was not transparently available to the public before the meeting or at the time of the meeting.
When a Public Records Request was submitted, the day before yesterday's meeting, requesting a copy of documentation or presentations associated with the "Transportation Update" agenda item, the response received from the County was there were none.
Burton never made his presentation once it was clear the commissioners were not going to pursue raising taxes or a transit tax referendum. Now we know there was a presentation planned but the County kept it from the public.
Yesterday's commission meeting can be viewed here.
Most of the meeting was discussing their Emergency Orders and Governor DeSantis's state-wide "stay at home" orders. Watch the video Pinellas Sheriff Gualtieri presents reflecting the compliance with the County's orders.
But now DeSantis's orders changes things, forcing businesses considered non-essential that were complying with Pinellas's order to close.
And there is confusion with all these Orders.
But at least for now, taxpayers in Pinellas and Hillsborough get relief from any proposed massive tax hike referendum being on the ballot in November.