Due to the efforts of four Palm Beach County Commissioners a proposed sales tax hike on county residents and visitors will not be on the November, 2014 ballot - for now. As we wrote on Monday, the Board of Commissioners was considering adding a .5% sales tax to the current 6% sales tax for the county. Yesterday, March 11, 2014, the Board of Commissioners met and voted 4-3 against advancing the tax hike. Several members of the community spoke out against the effort at yesterday's meeting, including Fred Scheibl of the Palm Beach County Taxpayer Action Board.
Steven Abrams, Hal Valeche, Paulette Burdick and Jess Santamaria voted against putting it on the November, 2014 ballot while County Mayor Priscilla Taylor, Shelley Vana and Mary Lou Berger were for the effort.
Opponents said there is plenty of money in the budget, especially the Palm Beach County Sheriff's budget, that negates the necessity for a tax increase. The money was supposed to help pay for road and bridge infrastructure however at yesterday's meeting no specific plan was presented in how the money was to be used. Such upgrades and maintenance are supposed to come from the county's gas tax, which has recently seen at 10% increase, and some from the county's general operating fund.
The county levies a six cents per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel sales which is the maximum allowed by state law. By law it is to be used for the paving of existing graded roads, improvements and bridge maintenance.
When combined with State of Florida gasoline taxes the total Palm Beach County residents and visitors pay is $.355 per gallon. Then there is the federal gasoline and diesel taxes which are $.184 and $.244 respectively. This adds up to 54 cents per gallon of gasoline and just shy of 60 cents per gallon of diesel sold in the county, which is supposed to go to maintain, upgrade and add our roads in the county, yet it gets squandered or raided to pay for other items on politician's agendas. The State of Florida has a long history of this behavior, which if widely known by the general public, would create outrage at proposing to increase the county's sales tax.
Thankfully the majority opinion of the Palm Beach County Commission saw through this, and will work to find the money needed for our roadways when crafting the upcoming county budget.