Jack Latvala to HART board re transit merger with Pinellas: Why are you afraid of a study?

  • Jack Latvala

Virtually from the time state Senator Jack Latvala suggested a merger of Hillsborough and Pinellas country transit agencies, the notion has been vehemently opposed by members of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART). Officials with PInellas' transit agency, PSTA, have also expressed reluctance, but not with the same intensity.

Now that a bill has passed through the Florida Legislature that requires both agencies to pay $50,000 for a study to examine such a merger, HART board members are still fighting it. Today they approved a resolution calling on Governor Scott to veto the bill (HB 599), though HART officials admit the odds are low that he'll do so.

To illustrate how angry they are about the legislation, the board backed a motion by Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner authorizing board attorney Chip Fletcher to investigate whether the agency can pursue legal action against Tallahassee for pushing an unfunded mandate.

All of which leads Senator Latvala to ask: What's the problem with a study that could possibly lead to saving millions of local taxpayer dollars?