Staff from the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners, the City of Fort Pierce and the City of Port St. Lucie have worked together to create an educational website to inform voters about the proposed half-cent sales tax that will be item No. 14 on the November election ballot.
The websites – www.slchalfcent.org; www.slchalfcent.com; www.pslhalfcent.org; www.pslhalfcent.com; www.fphalfcent.org; and www.fphalfcent.com – feature an interactive map that shows the projects that this additional revenue will fund; as well as Frequently Asked Questions and the official ballot language.
“The Board of County Commissioners agreed to place this proposed half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot with the full support of our elected leaders from the cities of Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie. It is extremely encouraging to see all of our municipal partners working together to explain and educate the residents about these projects that are needed throughout their neighborhoods,” said St. Lucie County Commission Chair Frannie Hutchinson.
If approved, the ballot measure will generate roughly $18.6 million with every dollar being spent on projects in St. Lucie County, Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce and St. Lucie Village. These funds can only be used for capital projects that provide better roads, more sidewalks and cleaner rivers. All expenditures will be overseen by an independent citizens committee to ensure that every dollar is spent right here in our community.
“Fort Pierce has an obligation and a golden opportunity to begin fixing some of the worst roads in our city,” explained Fort Pierce Mayor Linda Hudson.
Because of the previous years of declining property values, local governments have had to postpone maintenance projects such as repaving, sidewalks and stormwater improvements creating a backlog in the billions. A half-cent sales tax increase is estimated to generate $18.6 million annually with 15 to 20 percent of the revenue generated by visitors from outside of St. Lucie County.
The half-cent sales tax, if approved, will bring the value to 7 percent - the same as Indian River and Palm Beach counties. The half-cent sales tax will not apply to purchases of gas, groceries, or medicine. For large expenses such as automobile or boat purchases, the tax would only be applied to the first $5,000 of the purchase.
There are four layers of protection to ensure the money is spent as approved:
• Local citizen oversight committee;
• Florida law ensures the money can only be used for project areas listed on the ballot;
• Local ordinances will clearly define where the money will go;
• Locally elected officials, not state and federal, will be making these decisions.
Port St. Lucie Mayor Gregory J. Oravec added: “We’re building something special in Port St. Lucie; but, to reach our full potential, we need to judiciously invest in our more prosperous future. While they may not always be exciting or attention-grabbing, few municipal investments can beat the return on investment of, or do more for the quality of our everyday lives than, infrastructure investments. In PSL, we should look at the upcoming opening of the Crosstown Bridge as an important start, not a finish; and I hope our community will seize this opportunity to have better roads, more sidewalks and cleaner rivers.”
Elected officials and staff from the county and cities will be available now until the Nov. 6 election to speak to civic groups, non-profits and home owners associations about the proposed half-cent sales tax increase. To request a presentation or educational materials please visit the Contact Us section of the website: www.slchalfcent.com.