The PT Board of Directors approved the framework for a Countywide Transit Service Plan on December 9, 2009. When the Polk High Speed Rail Station was announced subsequent to the December 9 plan approval modifications were made to the framework to serve the Polk High Speed Rail station to be located in Lakeland either at Kathleen and I-4 or at the new USF Polytechnic campus.
On December 16, 2009, at the Authority’s Board of Directors request, the Polk Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution to place a referendum, on the November 2010 ballot, for the voters of Polk County to consider the use of one half cent of the Charter County Transit System Surtax to fund the countywide transit plan. The resolution was approved by the Board. The use of the Charter County Transit System Surtax was made possible, for Polk County use, by legislative changes made during the 2009 Regualr Session of the Florida Legislature and signed by Governor Crist on June 10, 2009. The only option prior to the June 10th signing was a property tax to secure a dedicated source of funding.
On May 5, 2010, the Board of County Commissioners approved an Ordinance placing a referendum on the November 2010 General Election to remit ½ cent of the Charter County Transit Surtax to the PT. The Ordinance contains the language that will be placed on the ballot.
On November 2, 2010, the referendum to obtain a dedicated funding source for the PT was not approved by the voters of Polk County. In 2012, the PT launched one of the most ambitious transit outreach plans in history to ask 2009 square miles and 17 municipalities a simple question, “What does good public transit look like to you?”
There were 31 listening sessions held in 60 days, met with people in the grocery stores, at malls, at community events, community centers, coffee houses, libraries, and in some cases, we met with constituents in their homes. Received over 1,000 completed surveys and talked with over 10,000 residents.
From the outreach, the My Ride Plan was born, a tailored solution for each of the 17 municipalities in Polk County, as well as solutions linking us to the Orlando and Tampa area via an airport express with service to Disney then direct to Orlando International Airport and service to Tampa International Airport and the James A. Haley VA Hospital, recognizing we have over 80,000 Veterans in Polk County. The PT’s next steps are to ask the Board of County Commissioners to once again place a referendum on the ballot in November 2014.
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