Sunday, June 23, 2024

Penny sales tax to fund infrastructure projects on November ballot for Seminole voters

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla.Voters in Seminole County will have to decide whether to keep the penny sales tax for the next decade.

Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners approved an ordinance that ensures the issue is back on the ballot this November.

For more than 30 years, the county has used money generated from the penny sales tax for essential infrastructure needs, including road repairs, school improvements, drainage projects and parks and trails.

After voters first approved the penny sales tax in 1991, it generated approximately $360 million in revenue which led to the completion of 140 projects over the next ten years. In 2001, voters in Seminole County passed the second generation of the tax, which resulted in $590 million in collected revenue and 723 total projects. When voters chose to take on the tax a third time in 2014, it generated over $800 million countywide.

That money has been used along the Riverwalk trail in Sanford, for improvements to Orange Boulevard and other road projects in Oviedo, Casselberry, and Winter Springs.

“There probably is not a piece of pavement that you drive on or a piece of sidewalk that you walk on that has not been laid because of the penny sales tax,” Commissioner Amy Lockhart said.

Commissioner Jay Zembower said it also allows the county to leverage federal dollars.

“To the tune of about $175 million that we otherwise would not have,” Zembower said .

The current tax sunsets at the end of the year. If approved by voters in November, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2025, through Dec. 31, 2034.

County commissioners said they will have some tough decisions to make if it is not renewed.

“If we lose the revenue from the penny sales tax we’ll have to make that up in some other way,” Lockhart said. “So, whether that’s through increasing other taxes and fees or property taxes, that’s one choice, or reducing services and cutting projects.”

“To replace what the one penny would bring in is an ad valorem increase of approximately 1.3 mills, so that’s a pretty hefty price compared to this being paid for 30% by people who don’t even live here.

Revenue from the penny sales tax is split between the county, seven municipalities, and Seminole County Public Schools.

News 6 obtained a list of projects under consideration if the tax is renewed, which can be seen below.

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