Pinellas County said 'No' to Greenlight Pinellas.
Voters in Pinellas County overwhelmingly rejected a 1-cent sales tax hike Tuesday night.
The referendum would have also increased bus service and created a rail system in the future, as well as eliminate the PSTA portion of the property tax.
"I’m frankly surprised by the outcome," said Kenneth Welch, chairman of PSTA’s board of directors.
Wednesday morning, Welch said it’s time to regroup. With no new revenue, it may mean cutting bus services.
"In order to stay in the black fiscally, you're either going to have to reduce the number of routes, or you're going to have to increase wait times - if you're going to keep the geographic coverage that you have," said Welch.
To keep buses running, Welch said they'll look at asking legislators to increase the tax base, or millage cap. Or, they may go back to the community to ask for bus expansion only.
"I really think just the rail piece of it, folks had a problem with,” Welch said.
The take-away, Welch said, is that most residents agree on the need for transportation improvement.
We asked Bay News 9 traffic expert Chuck Henson where he thinks the problems are.
"It’s a mess, every day,” said Henson, “Pinellas County has a congestion problem. It's the most densely populated county in the state. So, moving people from one end of it to another is a huge task for the roads that we have right now."
That means traffic tie-ups, and time-consuming commutes.
"It's all of those east-west arteries mid-county, and then you're looking at US 19, Belcher, Starkey, the ones that run north and south. All of it - you could tie every problem we have to the center of Pinellas county,” he said.
It's now up to leaders to figure out a solution; one that voters can get behind.