The citizens of Broward County, Florida may find themselves paying more in sales tax after November 6. A 1% sales tax increase has been proposed which would mean they would be paying 7% instead of 6% on their purchases. According to the SunSentinel, the increase in taxes will initially raise $357 million dollars a year to improve transportation.
On June 5, county commissioners voted 6-1 to add the transportation sales tax referendum to the November 6 ballot. A special board will be assembled should the referendum pass to decide exactly how the funds will be allocated. A few of the planned uses for these funds will be to alleviate traffic congestion, provide safe sidewalks for pedestrians, increase transportation technology, add railways, address special needs transportation, and provide safe pathways for cyclists.
Opponents of the referendum site the failed light rail project that they had previously approved. It was a 14 year planned light rail project that had raised $195.3 million only to fail in May. The plan had become too costly and public opposition too great. In an attempt to alleviate concerns, County Administrator Bertha Henry pointed out that before any plan to utilize light rail would be enacted an extensive study would be done. In addition, they would take community input into consideration since the main reason the original light rail plan was opposed was due to the routing, not the fact that it was light rail.
The light rail option could affect the passing of this tax referendum. Some of the commissioners suggested removing the light rail option from the proposal. Removing the light rail project from the proposal would shorten the length of the tax from 30 years to 10 to 15 years. In addition, due to the previous failed light rail plan and opposition, it would be easier to get the tax referendum passed should the light rail plan be left out.
According to Henry, light rail appears to be the best option to solve the east-west commuter issues which is why it will remain as part of the proposal. She further explained that reducing the number of years for the tax to be imposed is not feasible as it will lead to a need to find supplemental funds for the additional routes, facilities, equipment, and their maintenance. The voters will have the final say on November 6 when they take to the polls.