Sheriff Promotes Extension of Penny Tax

Todays News

Screenshot courtesy Common Cents for Sarasota campaign.

Voters in Sarasota County on Tuesday will decide whether to keep on the books a sales tax funding numerous public needs. Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman, a vocal supporter of the levy, said it’s critical voters vote yes.

“We have a dire need for capital improvements at the Sheriff’s Office,” Hoffman said. “Hopefully the penny sales tax will help with that.”

The sheriff has become somewhat of a face for the sales tax referendum on the ballot Tuesday. He points to a study that shows his office needs to more than double its physical facilities by 2035 to handle projected growth in the region. The revenue generated by the tax could make it painless to taxpayers to fund such an expansion with the county’s first dedicated public safety complex, Hoffman said.

The penny sales tax notably stands for renewal this year. It has been in place since 1989, and it only applies to the first $5,000 of any purchase made in the county. Supporters note it covers any purchases made by tourists and visitors to the region. If the tax isn’t renewed this year, it could expire at the end of 2024. If the referendum passes, the tax will be renewed through 2039. A quarter of the money goes to the Sarasota County School Board, with the rest of revenue being divided among Sarasota County government and local municipalities based on population.

Critics have grumbled about whether infrastructure funded by the tax addresses needs created by growth or helps spur those challenges, pointing to road expansions in Lakewood Ranch and East Sarasota County funded by the tax that opened regions to higher population densities, thereby creating need for more roads, schools and public safety facilities.

Hoffman, though, said the tax isn’t about whether the growth should happen but how to respond when it does.

“We can’t turn off the sunshine in the Sunshine State,” Hoffman said. “We won’t make Siesta Key a less popular place to go. We also have a political climate people want to gravitate to.

“I don’t think we will stop people from coming to Florida. The question is, are we going to have good quality water? Are we going to have the necessary public safety infrastructure? If the tax went away, all the things we are looking at coming would still be on the table.”

Hoffman stressed the use of surtax revenues remains carefully restricted. Beyond elected officials who are held to account for spending, the county must have a citizen tax oversight committee that conducts an annual review of expenditures. The funding can’t go to paying staff.

Hoffman noted any number of factors from inflation to material scarcity and supply line challenges continue to make the cost of infrastructure go up. “I could make the argument we are saving taxpayers money by not impacting the general fund and by getting started on projects a little sooner,” he said.

 

 

 

Screenshot courtesy Common Cents for Sarasota campaign.

« View The Monday Nov 7, 2022 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Brill Elected GOP Chair Through 2024

Brill Elected GOP Chair Through 2024

Jacob Ogles | Dec 5, 2022

Local Lawmakers Now Part of GOP Super-Majority

Local Lawmakers Now Part of GOP Super-Majority

Jacob Ogles | Nov 14, 2022

Ballard, Smith, Neunder Win County Commission contests

Ballard, Smith, Neunder Win County Commission contests

Jacob Ogles | Nov 9, 2022

Smith Believes He Can Be District 2's Effect Representative

Smith Believes He Can Be District 2's Effect Representative

Jacob Ogles | Nov 1, 2022