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Senator wants to kill agency she says that wastes taxpayer money | News

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Senator wants to kill agency she says that wastes taxpayer money

Tampa, Florida--Walter Gunny Kozak, who runs Gunny's Interstate Travel and tours, says he believes the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission is an agency whose time has come for it to disappear.

The agency regulates taxicabs, limousines and tow trucks. There is no other agency like it in the state and Kozak says it does not serve the best interest of the consumer or the motor carrier.

State Senator Ronda Storms agrees. She says it is about accountability, fiscal conservatism and efficiency.

Storms, a former Hillsborough Commissioner who served on the PTC board, has introduced a bill to eliminate the agency. Storms says if the 66 other counties in the state can regulate the same industries without a Public Transportation Commission, Hillsborough should be able to do it as well.

She says we can't argue with a straight face that the PTC is doing a top notch bang up job. Storms says all other counties do essentially the same thing, but Hillsborough does it more expensively, with more layers of government and with more scandal.

Hillsborough Interim Administrator Mike Merrill says there would be no savings if the county took over the agency and he was able to convince commissioners like Ken Hagan.

Hagan, who says he is all for eliminating or reducing bureaucracy and saving tax dollars, believes Merrill's analysis  would cost the county more.

However, a financial audit shows the PTC pays more than $644,000 a year in salaries and benefits including a $107,000 salary to executive director Cesar Padilla. It spends $41,000 in rent for office space and more than $456,000 in operating costs. Storms says those who can't see eliminating the PTC will save money are ignoring the mood of the country.

She says she feels sorry for the county bureaucrats who have been there a long time and how it will save money, but Storms says there is no doubt it will if it dissolved and moved into an existing county department.

And while all the PTC money comes from fees charged to the taxi cab, limousine and tow truck companies, if the agency was eliminated, the savings could be substantial. The PTC would no longer have to pay rent, it would no longer pay a six figure salary to an executive director and unnecessary personnel would be eliminated. The money that could be saved could then be put into the County general revenue fund and it could be significant.

In addition to their salaries all four PTC inspectors are double dipping as they collected an average $234,000 each from the Deferred Retirement Options Program and are receiving an average $53,764 each a year in retirement benefits as well as their salaries. However, Tampa city council member Joe Caetano, who chairs the PTC board, says he thinks it is a good agency and that it is important if it is done correctly.

Storms on the other hand says there is no rationale for empire preserving. She says the agency is empire building and it is bureaucrats looking out for bureaucrats.

And while the bureaucrats may be protected, Storms says the public ends up being taken for a ride by the agency that monitor public transportation.



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