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Voters can learn about proposed half-cent sales tax at two open house events

Post Date:09/06/2018 7:59 AM

Voters who want to learn more about the proposed half-cent sales tax -- and the local improvement projects it could fund -- will have a chance to speak directly with officials from St. Lucie County, Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce at two upcoming open house events.

These events are meant to give voters a chance to ask questions and receive information about the half-cent sales tax proposal, which will be question #14 on the Nov. 6 ballot. There will be two open house opportunities:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 26 in Fort Pierce at the Fenn Center, 2000 Virginia Ave, or
  • Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Port St. Lucie Community Center, 2195 SE Airoso Blvd.

Both open houses will be drop-in style from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Participants will be able to walk through the event to learn about the projects, all of which relate to road improvements, sidewalks and water quality.

              Those who attend also will have a chance to participate in three educational virtual reality experiences relating to some of the projects that would be funded by the proposed sales tax.

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.

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, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties. The half-cent sales tax will not apply to purchases of gas, groceries, or medicine. For 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.

Besides these open houses, elected officials and staff from the county and cities are available until the Nov. 6 election to speak to civic groups, non-profits and homeowners’ 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.  

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