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Budget conference: TBARTA to receive full funding at $1.5M

The funding covers staff and general agency expenses.

The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority is poised to receive full-funding in the upcoming budget. The Senate budget offer includes a $1.5 million appropriation to the agency, the full amount requested.

Rep. Jackie Toledo filed HB 2483 along with an appropriations request for the funding.

It will pay for a nearly $300,000 salary and benefits package for TBARTA Executive Director David Green. It also includes more than $987,000 for additional staff salaries and benefits including technical support, financial administration and oversight, grants management and administration, marketing and public relations, project management and human resources administration.

Another $213,214 would go to expenses for rent and utilities, phone and internet, travel and parking, training, printing and copying, office supplies, postage, office furniture and equipment and various other fees and expenses.

The funds are meant for “development of institutional, organizational, and management structure needed to plan, implement, and operate mobility improvements and expansions of multimodal transportation options for passengers and freight throughout the designated region.”

TBARTA oversees regional transit planning in the Tampa Bay region. The agency received $4.8 million last year including $1.5 million for staffing.

Last year was the first time the agency received substantial funding since the Legislature voted to overhaul the agency from a transportation group that provided limited services including a vanpool into a regional planning entity tasked with working across county lines and lead on transit initiatives.

Last year’s larger funding allocation provided additional money to study or implement new transit technologies, with things like Hyperloop specifically referenced.

This year’s allocation merely keeps the agency staffed and running to complete its regional transit planning mission, which was all the agency asked for.

It’s the second Legislative Session the agency has had the benefit of lobbyists working on its behalf.

RSA Consulting and Suskey Consulting are helping to draw down recurring state funding for the agency’s operations and identify funding for a proposed 42-mile bus rapid transit route connecting downtown St. Petersburg to Wesley Chapel along Interstate 275, one of the agency’s top priorities.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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