Partnerships are Important for Quality of Life

Guest Correspondence

One of the most important recurring referendums in the county is the renewal of the Sarasota County surtax.  The partnerships and unification of our community behind this important revenue source was incredible and a bright light in our community, which can be divided on many other issues. 

This referendum passed with 78% of the electorate voting to support it.  Unification of this nature does not receive a lot of attention or news coverage, so we believed it was important to highlight the coalescing of the community and the partnerships that made this happen.

This referendum assembled business associations, unions, governments, non-profits and the community behind a transparent and collaborative local tax to fund our infrastructure.  This tax funds our quality of life and makes living in Sarasota County so incredibly special. 

The extra penny on taxable goods up to $5,000 funds law enforcement and first responder equipment and vehicles, water quality and environment infrastructure, classroom technology, road maintenance, parks, libraries and road resurfacing, among other important capital items. The best part is that over 20% of this tax is paid for by visitors to Sarasota County.

It took two years to put together the past and present surtax project lists, education materials, websites and local campaign. This referendum was guided by a committee of leaders from north county to south county, and of varying political views, to whom we all owe our gratitude.  It was led by Justin Taylor, Chair of the County Citizen’s Tax Oversight Committee, former City of Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell and former County CommissioneCarolyn Mason, Sheriff Kurt Hoffman, Jennifer Vigne, CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, and Gina Taylor, former School Board Member and Chair of the 2007 Surtax Campaign.

Due to a new state law implemented on July 1 of this year, governments can no longer spend money to educate voters on the reasons for the referendum or how the referendum has performed in the past. That burden fell upon the community. Our business associations, non-profits, unions and business leaders stepped up to the plate to educate with money, time and advocacy.  They united to make sure everyone understood the importance of this referendum.

Don’t let this solid win fool you; this referendum was not a given that it would pass. There were eight surtax referendums around the state of Florida according to the local campaign, and half of those failed, with three of them failing very hard. Out of the remaining four that passed, Sarasota County was the clear leader in the state. The next referendum closest to us, in Pasco County, won with a passage rate 13 percentage points less than in our county.  

The Argus Foundation was proud to be a part of this partnership and investment in our community. The Argus Foundation’s mission statement is to “Apply Business Leadership to Important Community Issues.” That is why the Surtax referendum was our top priority for Argus for the past two years. We are so grateful that this endeavor was a collaboration with other leading organizations, without whom, this would not have passed. We are looking forward to the benefits of this tax and the projects that will be funded from the county borrow that was also approved to fast forward projects. Congratulations to everyone who had a part of the continuation of surtax. You are the reason we live in such a great place.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation.

« View The Saturday Dec 17, 2022 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Trust, Hope and Resiliency

Trust, Hope and Resiliency

Jennifer Vigne | Feb 4, 2023

Heroes Among Us

Heroes Among Us

Mark Pritchett | Jan 28, 2023

Students Set New College's Culture

Students Set New College's Culture

Jacob Ogles | Jan 28, 2023

Professional Experiences Benefit Students, Community

Professional Experiences Benefit Students, Community

Dr. Larry Thompson | Jan 28, 2023