Florida TaxWatch: Voters Approved $1.5 Billion in New Taxes on Election Day

On Wednesday, Florida TaxWatch offered a look on the 11 amendments that voters approved to add to the Florida Constitution last month and local tax and bond votes backed by voters across the Sunshine State.

“The report shows that voters in many Florida counties were in a generous mood on November 6, 2018, voting in favor of $1.5 billion in county and school district sales and property tax increases,” Florida TaxWatch noted on Wednesday as it released its follow up to a voters guide on the amendments before the election. “In addition, voters in two counties and eight cities approved $1.2 billion in local government bond issues, which will necessitate property tax increases to pay off the bonds.

“This follows tax increases for 11 additional counties and four special districts that were approved by voters during the primary election in August. These August increases totaled $335 million annually,” Florida TaxWatch added.

Former state Sen. Pat Neal, the new chairman of Florida TaxWatch, offered his take on the tax increases.

“On the ballot, these tax increases may not seem like much, but they do add up,” Neal said on Wednesday. “A valuable resource like Florida TaxWatch is needed now more than ever to keep taxpayers informed and to hold government accountable.”

“No tax increase failed in November and only one bond issue (Cooper City) failed.  Most passed easily—notable exceptions were sales tax referendums in Collier and Lee counties that got just over 50 percent yes votes,” Florida TaxWatch noted. “On the plus side, Florida taxpayers have shown they are willing to pay more taxes if they feel the return will be worth it. Nine counties passed tax increases for schools, five more counties approved sales tax increases to fund transportation and other infrastructure need, and Alachua County approved a Children’s Trust with the authority to levy up to one-half mill in property taxes to fund services for children. In addition, many of the tax referendums created a citizen oversight committee to monitor the spending of these new dollars.”

Dominic Calbro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, offered his take on what happened at the ballot box.

“It’s clear that Florida taxpayers are committed to funding local government services if the return on investment is worthwhile,” said Calabro. “While this commitment to improving schools and transportation is commendable, it is imperative that taxpayers stay involved in the process to ensure that their money is going to the right place.”

 

Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.

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