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Florida county rewards taxpayers, declines 1 cent renewal


(The Center Square) – Palm Beach County taxpayers were rewarded by their county commissioners this week, with a decision against renewing a penny-on-the dollar sales tax for another 10 years.

“It’s a tough time for everybody right now,” Commissioner Maria Marino told The Center Square. “We want to return dollars to our taxpayers.”

The tax generated $2.7 billion over the last decade, Marino said. That money went for a variety of projects including road and bridge work and building renovations.

“It’s a lot of money,” she said. “But we told the taxpayers it was only going to last for 10 years. I don’t want to go back on my word.”

Government can always find a way to spend tax revenue, Marion said.

“There will always be infrastructure needs,” she said. “There will always be bridge needs, there will always be road needs. But we told the public we were going to sunset this at roughly $2.8 billion and we are going to reach that point.”

The sales tax will now expire in December 2025 as planned. Some have advocated coming up with another tax specifically for transportation projects, Marion said.

“There is discussion of whether in coming years, we should have a transportation sales tax,” Marino said. “That would be for roads and bridges and trains, moving people around in a better manner. But that was not part of the discussion on the sales tax renewal.”

During debate on the sales tax extension, commissioners mentioned the rise in homeowner’s insurance rates that Floridians are currently facing.

Commissioners this year also approved the largest property tax millage rate cut in 30 years, Marino said.

“I led the charge on that and luckily the commission unanimously voted to do that,” said Marino.

Allowing the sales tax to expire was prompted by the same sentiment, the commissioner said.

Some favors sales taxes because they are paid by both county residents and those who are only visiting the county, Marino said.

“But it’s still a tax,” she said. “Because there is such uncertainty with insurance and the cost of things is going up so much, we didn’t want to pass that on any more.”