The Broward County Commission voted 5-3 to put interlocking sales tax items on the November 8 ballot that are dependent on each other to pass.
Each item asks for a half-penny sales tax increase. One would be used to finance Broward County transportation projects and the second would be used to fund city infrastructure projects. Voters must approve both requests or they both fail. If passed, people would pay seven cents on the dollar for purchases up to $5,000.
Both taxes would be in effect for 30 years. It is estimated that they would generate about $310 million in the first full year and $12.4 billion over 30 years. An oversight board would be created to monitor the use of the money.
The County sales tax would finance a variety of transportation projects including a light rail system known as the “Wave,” synchronization of traffic signals, and improvements to intersections. The extra funds would be used to provide more bus services, improve bicycle paths and sidewalks, and update county roads.
Broward cities could use the money to pay for street infrastructure improvements and bus shelters. It could be used for fire trucks, park improvements and other projects. City governments could use if for new buildings such as fire stations, police stations, recreation buildings and city halls. It could be used to purchase land for recreation and conservation.
The County Commission had previously agreed to a ballot initiative that would have raised the sales tax by three-quarter of a penny to pay for a countywide transportation system. They agreed to a compromise with elected officials who said the money was needed to replace municipal infrastructure, according to Kimberly Maroe, spokesperson for Broward County.
The Hollywood Commission held a special meeting and agreed to support this surtax. The City has not determined how the money would be spent.
“I am delighted. I think it provides the cities with money to do things they would never be able to do without raising taxes and enables the entire city to benefit from improvements to the infrastructure,” said Hollywood Commissioner Dick Blattner.
Also, the Broward Commission voted to provide low income senior citizens, an additional homestead property tax break. They approved up to an additional $25,000 homestead exemption for homeowners age 65 and older with a household income of $28,482 or less. This increase boosts the maximum senior low income homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000.