A St. Petersburg-area public transit authority has returned $354,000 in federal grant money to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The money was supposed to be used to protect transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from “acts of terrorism.”
Instead, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority paid for television and radio promotions that lauded the benefits of using the local public transit system. The ads further coincided with a $1.7 billion proposed light rail plan, part of the Pinellas Greenlight project, that depends on a voter-approved sales tax increase in November.
In an Aug. 1 email from PSTA chief executive officer Brad Miller to Pinellas County Commission chairman Kenneth T. Welch and the PSTA board, Miller blamed DHS and attributed the misspent funding to a lack of clarity regarding security grant requirements.
“DHS provided no guidance because they don’t have any,” he said.
In April, Watchdog.org reported PSTA was using DHS funding for promotional ads that included the Pinellas Greenlight logo.
By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog
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