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President's Report - July 2017

President CEO Joe Catrambone

Sales Tax Referendum
The county has experienced escalating infrastructure issues as a result of the economic downturn, unfunded mandates handed down by the legislature and aging infrastructure. Infrastructure includes roads, bridges, drainage pipes, buildings, utilities, sewers, etc. In addition, the state established maximum amounts of pollutants that can be discharged into impaired water bodies. The county must comply with these restrictions by established deadlines, or be subject to enforcement actions. Storm water quality and septic to sewer projects are necessary to meet these requirements. The current infrastructure backlog of countywide deferred maintenance is significant. In addition to this backlog, the budgets required to maintain the county’s infrastructure continues to increase.

Currently, the county receives one cent of the six cents collected for sales tax but use it for operating expenses. By state statute, a Local Sales Tax of one-half or one-cent may be added to the current State Sales Tax of six cents to be used for certain infrastructure projects. Necessities like food, health care/medicine and residential rent would be exempt. In addition, there is also a cap limiting the tax to the first $5,000 of a single purchase for large ticket items like cars and boats.

61 of Florida’s 67 counties have an additional local sales tax, of these, 28 counties have no expiration date. 55 counties have a one-cent tax and 6 counties have a half-cent tax. All the counties surrounding Martin County have a sales tax. A referendum on the issue will be on the August 29, 2017 ballot, voters will have the opportunity to approve or reject it. If approved by voters, it would become effective on January 1, 2018 and expire on December 31, 2027.

A sales tax will provide funding for water quality, infrastructure rehabilitation (roads, bridges, and drainage), and to construct and reconstruct county facilities as identified in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan. All expenditures of sales tax proceeds must be approved by a majority of the Board of County Commissioners at an advertised public hearing. The state has estimated the following annual amounts to be realized for a one cent sales tax. Note that the County’s municipalities will also receive a portion of the local sales tax. Jupiter Island, $132,358, Ocean Breeze Park, $15,523, Sewall’s Point, $326,810, Stuart, $2,628,697, Martin County BOCC, $  23,169,584.

If approved by voters, the local sales surtax would become effective on January 1, 2018 and expire on December 31, 2027.

Joe Catrambone

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