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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 the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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