TAB Opposes Sales Tax Increase

April 27, 2012

Staff requests direction on implementation of a “Charter County and Regional Transportation Tax”

On Tuesday, May 1st, the Palm Beach County Commission will be considering a $100 Million, 1/2% increase (raising existing 6% to 6.5%) in the sales tax to fund transportation related spending.  The Administrator is requesting board feedback on putting this proposed tax on the November ballot, and the Commission must give approval prior to the August 10th ballot language deadline.  A good description can be found in Jennifer Sorentrue’s article Palm Beach County voters may be asked to increase sales tax by half-cent for roads, transportation.

The agenda item is 4A2 – and it falls early in the morning’s schedule – after special presentations and the Consent Agenda, and an item related to the Supervisor of Elections.  The agenda can be found here  and the agenda item background here.

The County Administrator’s rationale is as follows:

Why now?   Is it because our economy languishes and home values aren’t increasing significantly so there are revenue pressures?  Is it because the price of gas has become so high that we – tourist and resident alike, are driving less or boating less?  Is it because the administration doesn’t want to have to account for how they spend – when they have no productivity and performance benchmarks nor measurements against those benchmarks?

TAB has issues with this proposed sales tax increase:


Residents, business owners and tourists alike pay ad valorem taxes.  The resident or business owner pays it directly.  The ‘tourist’ pays it indirectly.  Residents, businesses and tourists pay for fuel.  The Palm Beach County Revenue Manual  lists several taxes that are geared towards transportation already:

In addition – Palm Tran already has fees, and builders have ‘road’ impact fees.

At the April 27, 2012 Commissioners’ workshop on the Internal Audit Department, the Commissioners, whether rhetorically or not, questioned the lack of any kind of productivity or performance measurements in the county.  Asking the voters’ to hand over more of their hard-earned money to an open-ended, unspecific, windfall tax is unconscionable.

Voters are unlikely to approve the proposed ballot amendment.  Please tell your commissioners to reject this request by the County Administration and not put it on the ballot in November.