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Mayors Show Support for Pinellas, Polk Transit

Yoselis Ramos

The Tampa Bay Partnership hosted a transportation forum Wednesday in St. Petersburg and the Greenlight Pinellas referendum received lots of attention.

The transportation forum included commissioners from Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk Counties, and representatives from the region's transportation authorities.

The event's main course was a mayoral panel about connecting the region. Mayors from Lakeland, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater discussed their support for both Greenlight Pinellas and My Ride My Roads-- similar one-cent sales-tax referendums on November's ballot for transportation improvements in Pinellas and Polk County, respectively.

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos realizes no one likes taxes, “but the trade-off is what is important. The tourists are going to be paying a substantial portion of this,” he said.  “Our local residents will be getting a break because the PSTA tax on our property will go away, so that's what we have to keep in mind."

Critics of the Greenlight Pinellas referendum argue it will mean Pinellas County will have the highest sales tax in the state. 

Cretekos also posed a question to the audience of more than 150 people.

“We’re not doing this for ourselves. Let’s be honest with each other, how many of us will ride the bus to work every day?” he asked as only a handful of people raised their hands.

“What we’re doing, is doing this for the community. We’re doing this for people who need to be able to get to work,” Cretekos said. “We’re doing this because we want to see our area redevelop and continue to grow and expand so it can be a place that we can be proud to call home.”

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