Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Back Tax Proposals for Manatee County | Vote for Investments in Schools and Infrastructure | Vote for Investments in Schools and Infrastructure

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Back Tax Proposals for Manatee County | Vote for Investments in Schools and Infrastructure | Vote for Investments in Schools and Infrastructure

Article excerpt

OUR VIEW

As Election Day approaches on Tuesday, and early voting nears its completion today, the Herald-Tribune is republishing its recommendations on ballot questions. (For more information about candidates, go to heraldtribune.com/voterguide.) The following summarizes our recommendations on two local sales-tax proposals in Manatee County. Each involves a tax of one-half cent on the dollar.

One of the initiatives seeks to extend the school district's "half-penny" sales tax for capital projects. The other would initiate a tax of the same amount for county and city governments to fund "infrastructure."

Both proposals reflect demonstrable needs. Approval would place Manatee in the norm on local-option sales taxes: Currently, 40 of Florida's 67 counties -- including neighboring Sarasota, Pinellas and Hillsborough -- levy a total of 1 percent, in addition to the statewide rate of 6 percent. Eight counties levy a higher local rate than Manatee and 19 others are lower.

The total sales tax in Manatee County has been 6.5 percent since 2002, when 61 percent of voters approved the school district's half- penny. (During a five-year period in the 1990s, the total in Manatee was 7 percent, when revenue from a 1 percent local tax approved by voters went toward school construction -- and a portion to cities.)

County/city tax

Manatee County once had the reputation of a can-do government. But an insufficient sales tax does not allow for sufficient investment and results in important projects being placed on "can't- do" lists. For decades, that was not the "Manatee way."

The proposal was initiated by a credible advisory board that recommended the tax for investing in roads, sidewalks, libraries, parks, "infrastructure for law enforcement" and stormwater- treatment facilities. These areas warrant additional investment and the sales tax is a simple, effective and efficient way to raise the revenue. (The committee's report can be found at mymanatee.org/ halfcent. …

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