CLEARWATER -- County officialdom was more than willing to help out the Pinellas Suncoast Transportation Authority -- the outfit that runs the buses in the county -- by garnering more tax money.
That officialdom -- the County Commission and the Metropolitan Planning Organization, two entities that are cross pollinated -- had a great idea. Let's make every municipality in the county a tax source for the PSTA.
A key proponent of the idea was Susan Latvala, currently the chairperson of the County Commission whose tenure in that position ends in December. She's the same one who wants to abolish the Pinellas Planning Council to give the county greater control over municipalities.
In the case of the PSTA the idea of hitting up everyone for tax funds won't fly, mainly because neither the County Commission nor the MPO have any say over PSTA doings. The bus service is a creature of the state Legislature.
When the folks who run Belleair Shore, Belleair Beach, Treasure Island, St. Pete Beach, South Pasadena, Kenneth City and Tierra Verde got wind of the idea that their citizens might be hit with a PSTA tax they said, "nothing doing."
Take John Robertson, mayor of tiny Belleair Shore. He wields strong influence among his fellow mayors, witness the opposition to the Pinellas Suncoast fire district tax and the PSTA idea.
Robertson makes no bones about it. He flatly does not want to pay for bus service, and his sentiments echo his fellow mayors and managers in those municipalities that don't have it.
In fact, when plans emerged for a possible transit assessment, Dennis Jones, who represents the area in the state Senate, was contacted and his help was sought in blocking any move in Tallahassee to include the cities who don't want the PSTA.
To nail down that sentiment and make it clear to the members of the authority, Robertson and others showed up at this month's meeting and made clear their position.
Robertson thinks that it should be up to each of the jurisdictions as to whether they want to be part of the system. His position, as far as his town is concerned, is that "we don't use it, we don't want the service, and we shouldn't have to pay for something we don't want or use."
As far as the future is concerned, there will be much talk. The lines of contention are already drawn.
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