Broward residents to vote on penny tax increase in 2 ballot questions

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - One week before early voting gets underway in Broward County, citizens are not only preparing to vote for politicians but will also decide whether or not to approve a penny tax.

County leaders argued in favor of raising the sales tax by one cent, indicating that the increase could lead to billions of dollars toward financing two projects. Consequently, voters will see two questions on the ballot.

Officials said, half of the sales tax increase would finance countywide transportation projects like the “Wave” light rail system in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. The modern streetcar transit system would add future connections to the Broward County Convention Center, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades.

This first half would also fund projects meant to ease heavy traffic, like increased bus service and synchronized traffic signals, something that, officials said, is necessary. “Transportation is the true economic engine of most municipal metropolitan areas and you gotta keep that healthy,” said Scott Brunner, Director of Broward’s Traffic Engineering Division.

The other half cent would be used to fund municipal infrastructure projects. For the first 20 years, it would be doled out to cities based on population. The more people who live in an area, the more money they’ll see.

It could be used for anything from repaving roads, building new police and fire stations and improving drainage.

During the next 10 years, 40 percent of the tax would go to the county.

The total tab? Experts said the change would bring in $310 million in just one year, and $12.4 billion over the next 30 years.

“It’s important that people don’t expect everything that’s going to be done over the next 30 years to be done in year one or year two,” said Raelin Storey, Public Affairs and Marketing Director for the City of Hollywood. “It is a long-term look at how we can invest in our community as a whole.”

But some residents have reservations about where the money will end up. “I need to really know the transparency that these people are gonna have,” said Deerfield Beach resident Terry Scott.

For this particular issue, voters have to be all in. Both measures must pass for either to be implemented.

Currently, neither Broward County nor any of its cities collect any additional sales tax above the six percent allocated by the state.

Voters have rejected similar proposals in past elections.

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