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County commission places 1% sales surtax on November ballot

Commissioner Anna Prizzia at March 22 County Commission meeting

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

At their March 22 meeting, the Alachua County Commission voted unanimously to put a referendum for a ten-year one percent sales surtax on the November 8 ballot.

The ordinance calls for a 1% sales surtax that will replace the current 0.5% Wild Spaces Public Places (WSPP) surtax that was passed in 2016. WSPP does not expire until December 31, 2024, and it will continue until that date if the referendum does not pass.

During the board’s discussion, Commissioner Anna Prizzia said, “The point of expanding from a half cent to a full cent was to address a lot of the critical infrastructure problems that we have with many of our roads… and in addition to that, to fund affordable housing… We’re doing a sales tax because it’s the least regressive way to do it. The taxes are not on food or rent, and we have sales tax holidays on clothing, school supplies, things that are needed the most, and 30% of that sales tax comes from out of our county, from people who come here to shop and play, go to Celebration Pointe. We’re able to leverage visitors to our county to support important things. They drive on our roads and use our parks and should be paying for them.”

The proceeds from the surtax will be split between the county and the municipalities, with each entity required to allocate half to WSPP projects such as parks and recreation, open space, and natural resources; the other half will be allocated to Other Infrastructure projects as defined in Florida’s statutes. Those projects can include but are not limited to land acquisition; land improvement; costs related to constructing or improving public facilities that have a life expectancy of 5 years or more; and land acquisition for a residential housing project in which at least 30% of the units are affordable to those with a household income not exceeding 120% of the area median income. Up to 15% of the non-WSPP half of the surtax may be used to fund economic development projects to improve the local economy.

The funds will be divided between the County and the municipalities based on a formula found in Florida statutes that is roughly proportional to population, with the county getting over half the funds and the rest distributed to the municipalities by population. Because that doesn’t leave much for the smaller municipalities, the ordinance states that the County will allocate $6 million (half for WSPP projects and half for Other Infrastructure projects) of its share of the tax to the City of Gainesville “for uses… that Alachua County finds, in its sole discretion, have countywide significance.” The City will have to submit a detailed request for each project. Another $6 million will be provided to all the municipalities (including City of Gainesville); each municipality can submit detailed requests for funds, but the ordinance does not address how the requests will be prioritized. This will be a one-time allocation of a total of $12 million, not an annual allocation.

The surtax is estimated to raise about $49 million in the first year, with almost $28 million going to the County, $17 million to the City of Gainesville, $1.35 million to the City of Alachua, $895k to Newberry, $861k to High Springs, $189k to Hawthorne, $156k to Archer, $124k to Waldo, $87k to Micanopy, and $51k to La Crosse. 

If approved by a majority of voters, the surtax will begin on January 1, 2023, and end on December 31, 2032. 

Although the wording in the title of the referendum calls it the “WILD SPACES PUBLIC PLACES, ROAD REPAIR, FIRE STATIONS, AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING ONE PERCENT SALES TAX,” funds from the 0.5% surtax for Other Infrastructure Uses can be used for any of the projects allowed by statute. The ordinance does not specify any minimum amount of money to be spent on roads, fire stations, or affordable housing, and the County and municipalities will each develop their own priority lists for spending the money allocated to them.

  • Only politicians who can spend this “other peoples money” grab would vote for this. Probably to be spent on items most of the GQPublic don’t want. Wonder if po boy, “light weight Ward, and Fake minority Hayes – Shltos (from his stepdad (LOL!!!) will get to spend up a share of this on worthless projects? Nothing new here, just another liberal zealot rip-off!!!

  • Let’s see how many idiots are in Alachua County and vote to increase the taxes on themselves.

    If it passes, this isn’t a highly educated community – it’s a dumb@rse community of liberal idiots. Not only are they stupid, they don’t have any common sense either. Take your parks, your green space, your liberal B.S. & move to those states whose residents are fleeing because plenty of room for you.

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    Please take note of how Cornell reworded the proposed tax. He buries the content because he knows most knuckleheads won’t read the entire referendum. What else is he hiding?

    • So now the city and county are in cahoots to makes us all pay though the nose going and coming. Property taxes outrageous, no choice electricity cost Hughes in the state due to that city commission spending without guilt or intelligence. Stop this madness! Both the city commission and county commission must go 100%. Vote Zero local Incumbents every election!

  • Cornell always did play corn-hole with others . He’s had some of the most ridiculous and impossible beliefs; but, in this case, just greed. Thinks Much like his jobless friend L Poe who was let go from the junior college he taught history to HS kids, while publicly lying on the dias that he was an economics professor. No wonder he is jobless “to spend more time with his family “. Cornell and crew at county and dumber than the 3 big failure flops at city (Poe, Hayes Shltos, nutty Ward – what has any of them ever accomplished? NOTHING!); but, Cornell had weird conspiracy like beliefs, even in the face of overwhelming contradictory facts. All in all the city and county gov here in Alachua/gangsville need replaced ASAP.

    • What kind of community would keep piling on sales taxes, electricity rates, and higher property taxes and then act like they are doing us a favor? Just inch up a half a cent, actually doubling the current tax. Every bit of this strikes the poor more than you know. From diapers, cigarettes, toilet paper, napkins, silverware, to you name it. They minimize the impact from their elite ivory towers in their offices and comfy west side homes where all is fine.

      • Their plantations. Cornell is on the east side of the county but he’s got a plantation size home. Someone already commented on Cornell’s rewording of the language so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he would want to add an extra layer of deception to the ballot. Why isn’t anyone surprised at their objection to single member districts?

        These commissioners know the best way to maintain their control is to limit people’s knowledge and understanding of local ordinances. The costs are passed on to us, the residents – not the freeloaders being invited.

  • Has crime gone down since a judge forced us to pay for a new downtown courthouse? Has panhandling declined since we started GRACE? Have county Native kids gotten better or worse since Childrens Trust and other tax draining boohoo grants started? Nuff said.

  • They are out of their freaking minds, as if we didn’t know that already.

      • It has about as much chance of passing as Hunter BIden has of becoming President someday. It’s a waste of money – more wasted money in a county that can’t afford it. They should do a quick poll of a few hundred people using their own staff (not $100,00 for more “consultants”) and then forget about this stupid idea.

  • Well,,,,,its high time the county electorate wise up and vote this fraud & waste tax down….and damn it….fix the freakin roads!!!

    • Where are you hiding the Covid loot while using potholes as land mines?

  • is Commissioner Anna Prizzia SUPPOSED to look like a witch? is that part of the game?

    EveryDayIsHalloween InThisCorporateCovidScheme SoHaveAnotherDoomedVaxxine

  • Whatever happened to funding infrastructure and other critical services like fire protection and police protection from property taxes?

    • Exactly, the alternate names for the city commission and county commission: Useless and Clueless! Seems to me that a table full of chimpanzees would do just as well, for less pay, peanuts in fact!

  • I would hold my nose and vote for the extra half cent tax if it was going entirely to roads/infrastructure but it looks like a very small percentage will ultimately go there. That being the case, I plan on voting “no” to this.

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