This week, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released a look at local tax referenda that voters across the state decided on in this year’s election.
FTW unveiled “Local Tax Referenda on the November 2020 Ballot: What Passed?” on Monday.
Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro weighed in on the findings.
“In years past we have seen taxpayers show a willingness to approve taxes they feel will provide a meaningful return and 2020 was no exception. Despite the year’s historic economic struggles and the future uncertainty of COVID-19, during the recent general election voters across Florida approved $400 million in city and county tax increases funding schools, emergency services, and public infrastructure. While many of the approved tax referenda created citizen oversight committees to monitor the spending of these new dollars, accountability truly begins with individual citizens. Florida TaxWatch encourages every taxpayer to stay involved and informed on government spending in their community,” Calabro said.
This year, voters in 19 counties approved 10 sales tax and 10 property tax increases worth $400 million. Most passed easily, with 11 tax increases receiving more than two-thirds (66.7 percent) of the vote. Only one proposed county-wide tax increase failed, a school sales tax extension in Liberty County that lost by only 17 votes. However, voters in Liberty County approved a second sales tax referendum for emergency fire services. Additionally, voters passed a new tourist development tax in north Walton County, $250 million in proposed bond issues, and several major spending issues.
Voters also gave approval for nine county commissions and six municipal governing bodies to grant property tax exemptions to new and expanding businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs.