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Protesters Against Tax on Tracks

A group protested any sales tax increase to fund a proposed light rail project, which could go through Largo.

Monday afternoon along Starkey Road, a group of people protested the possible taxpayer funding of a proposed light rail project, which could go through Largo.

One proposed funding source for light rail is a one percent sales tax, which Pinellas voters would need to approve.The proposed increase would make sales tax eight percent.

The costs to build the rail would be paid for by a mix of local, state, federal and private funds that would be financed over 30 years, according to Scott Pringle of Jacobs Engineering Group at a presentation in Clearwater.

The proposed light rail plan would connect Largo's East Bay Drive with Downtown Clearwater and Downtown St. Petersburg. The preliminary cost estimates for the 16 rail stations and 24 miles of transit rail are $1.5 to $1.7 billion, Pringle said.

The protesters shared concerns about the funding of light rail.

"I am against a one percent tax for light rail. I don't believe we can afford it in this economy," said Matt Bender of Palm Harbor.

The group against the light rail tax wanted to raise awareness.

"Unless there's citizen awareness and action against this. It will just happen without people understanding. (Transit funding) is a complex issue...I hope (the tax increase) does not go on the ballot," said Betsi Burgess of St. Petersburg.

For more information on the "No Tax on Tracks" group go to www.railtaxfacts.com

Pinellas On Track is a consortium of various county planning and transportation boards, which is working on a transit and light rail plan for the area. It would take decades for the light rail project to come to fruition. The group has held a series of online town hall meetings to get resident input and answer questions.

For more information on the county proposal go to www.pinellasontrack.com

Wanda Schwerer February 21, 2012 at 08:45 PM
I'd love to see a light rail run from downtown Clearwater through Largo into downtown St. Pete. We moved here from Chicago where we had the "El"evated rail & subway system and numerous commuter rail systems. I used them and loved them. I would gladly pay an extra penny sales tax to fund light rail. If not now, when?
Lenny R February 22, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Is it in the plan to add biking and walking paths alongside the rail line, it would be a novel idea to include another form of transportation for the future of Pinellas.
Al Bryan February 22, 2012 at 12:07 PM
What a huge crowd. Was Fox News there?
Melissa Lattman February 22, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Thanks for your input! When I drove by I saw about 10 people holding signs, they were spread out on various parts of the intersection.
Melissa Lattman February 22, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Thanks for your input! I am attaching a link to the draft map showing what transit officials are presently planning. The link says the transit officials will update the link when/if changes occur. http://www.pinellasontrack.com/content/get-informed

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