• Pinecrest Lakes
  • Geneva Drive Pipe
  • Salerno Creek STA Project
  • Metal Culvert
  • Cove Road

Why is a local sales tax being considered now?

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 other words, the basic systems that support a community’s residents and economy. These problems can be seen in the condition of some roads and pipe failures in the last several years. Reacting to emergencies like pipe failures is not a fiscally efficient method of addressing recognized problems. We are faced with a decision to be proactive or reactive in addressing these issues.

In addition to the above, the state has 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. Stormwater quality and septic to sewer projects are necessary to meet these requirements.

In evaluating options, it was felt that the financial impact of a sales tax would be distributed across property owners, non-property owner residents, tourists, and consumers from neighboring counties who shop and/or dine in Martin County.

How serious is the problem?

The current infrastructure backlog of countywide deferred maintenance is significant. In addition to this backlog, the budgets required to maintain the county’s infrastructure continue to be underfunded each year. If unchecked, the combination of these two elements will create a situation from which it will be difficult to recover. Preservation of our infrastructure is reaching critical failure – exponentially increasing the funding required. For example, the cost to resurface a mile of roadway ranges from $100,000 to $250,000 – depending on how far the road is allowed to deteriorate before action is taken.

Why is this important to me?

Failing infrastructure costs all residents and can result in safety issues and reduced property values. Often these costs are hidden – as an example, it is estimated that driving on roads in need of repair costs Florida motorists an extra $1.79 billion a year in vehicle repairs and operating costs, or $128 per motorist. Additionally, the value of a homeowner’s property is affected by the condition of roads, bridges, drainage, and amenities like parks, docks, etc.

What is a Local Sales Tax?

Currently, the county receives one-half cent of the six cents collected for sales tax but this money is used 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.

Will the sales tax apply to all purchases?

No, 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.

Do any other counties in Florida implement a local sales tax?

61 of Florida’s 67 counties levy an additional local sales tax, of these, 28 counties have no expiration date on. 55 counties have a one-cent surtax and 6 counties have a half-cent surtax. All the counties surrounding Martin County have a sales surtax. Martin County is proposing a one-cent local sales tax.

What is the next step?

A referendum on the issue will be on the August 29, 2017 ballot, when voters will have the opportunity to approve or reject the one-cent sales surtax.

When would the local sales tax become effective?

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

How is the money spent? Will the public have any input?

A sales surtax 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, which is adopted annually at a public hearing. The funds from a sales tax could be used to implement the Capital Improvement Program, reduce the backlog, and supplement the approved budgets in these areas. This strategy would allow the County to gradually return the infrastructure to an acceptable condition.

All expenditures of sales tax proceeds must be approved by a majority of the Board of County Commissioners at an advertised public hearing. The public will have an opportunity to provide comment at these meetings.

How much revenue would a local one cent sales tax generate a year?

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.

Municipality

Annual Amount

Jupiter Island

$     132,358

Ocean Breeze Park

$      15,523

Sewalls Point

$     326,810

Stuart

$   2,628,697

Martin County BOCC

$  23,169,584