Penny Sales Tax Question November 6th Ballot | Big Picture Broward | Big Picture Broward

Your Penny can be Worth Billions

[How a penny increase in sales tax will turn Fort Lauderdale into the city of tomorrow]

Read Time: 10 minutes

Penny Sales Tax Question November 6 Ballot

We leave them aging in our passenger seat cupholders. Frivolously toss them on the sidewalk. Leave them at the cash register for the next customer in line. Scoop them out of the washing machine and forget about them in the junk drawer.

We’re talking about your piggy bank nuisance: the penny.

Pennies, though not entirely useless, are no buffalo nickel. But what if we said the penny was making a huge comeback in terms of everyday value?

Don’t go digging through your junk drawer just yet.

BUT…

If that was your first instinct then you should consider voting in favor of the upcoming penny sales tax on the November 6 ballot.

Summary

It is important to know the BIG issues on the upcoming November 6th ballot, like the Penny Sales Tax question.

This article informs on the benefits of generating an estimated $16 billion for transportation and infrastructure over a 30-year period by increasing Broward County’s sales tax by one penny. If you live, work, or socialize in Broward County then you should know how great this surtax will improve your quality of life.

Keep reading to learn about who will pay the sales tax, which goods will be subject to the tax, the expected benefits and all the projects planned throughout all 31 municipalities in Broward County, including key areas in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Continue reading to learn more on the benefits of the Penny Sales Tax and what this means for downtown Fort Lauderdale!
Penny Sales Tax Question November 6 Ballot

A city on the rise is a city on the move

[Why the penny sales tax is essential for the continued growth of Fort Lauderdale]

Broward County’s economic vitality depends on our ability to move people, goods, and services. However, major sections of Broward County are already built-out.

Our ability to develop and improve upon the existing infrastructure with effective, countywide transportation methods is going to be essential for improving the standard of living across South Florida.

On the November 6 ballot will be a penny surtax question to fund countywide transportation projects to relieve traffic congestion and improve mobility in all of Broward County’s 31 municipalities.

“For the first year, the penny sales tax is estimated to raise approximately $300 million. [Learn more of the FAQs here]

Before we talk about funding, let’s talk about Fort Lauderdale city improvements that are already in the works and our shared vision of the future!

Have you heard of the Las Olas Boulevard Six-month Safety Improvements Demonstration Project?

It’s something to be excited about… especially if you frequent any of the 35 bars and restaurants along the strip, shop at any of the boutiques and clothing stores, jog down the boulevard and side streets, work at or own any of the shops, ride your bike to the beach, or even Uber people to and from the area.

The plan to connect all forms of transportation safely and effectively is “part of an overall Community Investment Plan that includes safety and traffic calming improvements within the Colee Hammock neighborhood, and additional safety and traffic flow improvements along S.E. 15th Avenue.”

The installment of safe, navigable avenues for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and delivery vehicles, which also compliment business interests and the economic vitality of the downtown core, is exactly what Fort Lauderdale needs.

Penny Sales Tax Question November 6 Ballot

This six-month safety plan along Las Olas, though temporary, sends the right message to Broward County voters…that interconnectivity is necessary for a city that supports large numbers of daily commuters and annual visitors.

After reading more on the Las Olas Boulevard six-month safety improvements demonstrations project, you’ll agree that…

Funding for transportation should be our county’s TOP priority.

Currently, Broward County’s transportation budget is funded through taxes on gas and general revenue (like property taxes and business taxation).

Funds generated through a general revenue tax are not covered by the law, so the state may use these funds to engage a variety of activities, such as funding for a homeless shelter.

The gas tax, on the other hand, is simply outdated. Not only has it remained unchanged for 20 years, it also fails to fluctuate with gas prices. With a greater focus on green energies and fuel-efficient technologies, and less reliance on vehicular transportation the gas tax will remain stagnant or likely decline.

With rapid migration to the area, coupled with increased operational and maintenance expenses on roads, buses, traffic lights and so on, our finances will gradually offset. Already, Broward county ranks last on transportation spending per capita. Coming in at 67 out of 67 Florida Counties with a population of 75,000 or more.

As of 2015, Broward County only spends $34.19 for road and street facilities expenditures per capita.

Improving livability starts with getting people to the places they need to be without breaking their budgets. 

There are currently 1.9 million people living in Broward County with 12.8 million annual visitors, and 235 thousand people expected to live here by 2040 — or 64 new households annually.

Additionally, “between 2015 and 2030 we can expect a 48.5% increase in Broward County’s 60-year-old + population. 43.2% of which are in the 75 and older age group.”

Renting in Broward County is also on the rise. In fact, renters outrank homeowners today. And with increased downtown residential development on properties for rent, we can expect an even greater population influx of young professionals to the downtown sphere.

If you already live in downtown Fort Lauderdale and are among the 62% of renters who are slightly cost-burdened then keep reading to learn how greatly the penny tax will improve your standard of living.

Penny Sales Tax Question November 6 Ballot

Impacts across Broward County

1. Expanding our existing fiber-optic network 

The penny sales tax will serve to reconfigure 73 congested intersections by creating a fiber-optic backbone that will support new age mobility technologies. If you hate rush hour traffic, bottlenecks and snowbird traffic congestion then this will be a dream come true for your daily commutes.

A well-developed, countywide fiber optic network will improve our traffic grid and allow for the installment of adaptive signal control systems.

What does this mean?

Picture the scene from the movie “Bruce Almighty” when Bruce [Jim Carey] uses his new, divine powers to split the roadway during his morning commute…. Well, that could be you. Actually, it could be all of us.

Adaptive signal control will alleviate traffic congestion by synchronizing green lights, which will create long stretches of road north to south and east to west. This will also play a huge role in synchronizing traffic to match scheduled Brightline train departures and arrivals.

Say ‘adios’ to bumper to bumper traffic on Sunrise and Broward Boulevard!

An updated fiber optic network will also allow for future technology adaptation. Self-driving cars won’t seem so far-fetched once you see them cruising down Las Olas Blvd towards the beach with nothing but green lights leading the way. 😉

2. Local bus service enhancements and routes

The surtax will turn our bus fleet into an armada on wheels.

New routes across the county will open, existing routes will be extended, bus schedules will run for longer durations, and express services with 10/15 minute scheduled pickups will open along specific routes.

This will connect communities and neighborhoods throughout Broward County. And improve accessibility for our workforce, senior residents, and those who currently rely on Uber rides to reach core sections of the city.

Additionally, an express bus traveling north-south on I-75 will start service in 2019. $930 thousand of annual operation fees will be covered by the surtax, and $3.6 million for 6 new busses will be funded by FDOT.

With this service in operation, Fort Lauderdale will be that much more accessible to people living in western suburbs. And with the Brightline already connecting us to Miami and West Palm Beach, we’ll experience a new age of interconnectivity across South Florida, which is really exciting!

Speaking of light rail…

3. New light rail corridors will connect urban centers to the port and airport.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, the city commission chose not to pursue the proposed Wave Streetcar deal. However, we did learn invaluable lessons from the experience, which will be considered during planning for upcoming light rail installations.

According to a presentation created by the government of Broward County, outlining possible light rail applications resulting from revenue generated by the penny sales tax “Every corridor would be (re)studied and approved by the federal government, which also evaluates alternative designs and technologies as part of the process. Light rail is intended to operate in a dedicated right-of-way (faster than a car can travel to make attractive to the choice rider), along high-demand corridors, using vehicles with large passenger capacities and the ability to be coupled (multiple cars connected together).

Currently, there are 25 miles of proposed light rail transit being discussed.

The factors considered are as listed:

  • Ridership
  • Economic development opportunities
  • Benefit-cost analysis
  • Community support
  • Available right-of-way design feasibility
  • Environmental factors

The overall scope of a light rail system (that fits these requirements) would ultimately connect the Fort Lauderdale Brightline Station to the downtown core, the port, Broward Memorial and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport.

Could you imagine flying into Fort Lauderdale’s International airport, boarding a light rail train and arriving downtown minutes later, checking into the Dalmar Hotel then walking over to the Brightline and taking a train to Miami for lunch all without ever having to step foot in a car!?

Want to know more about specific development plans in your area? Then keep reading!
Penny Sales Tax Question November 6 Ballot
Penny Sales Tax Question November 6 Ballot

Fort Lauderdale

A Primary Area of Focus

Summary of proposed projects:

  • 10 intersection improvements
  • 8 adaptive traffic signal control areas
  • Traffic signal video detection predictive maintenance program (countywide)
  • Fiber optic cables along NE 62 Street
  • 12 mast arm upgrades
  • 12 school zone safety improvements
  • Bike lanes along NE 62 Street, NE 56 Street, Prospect Road, NW 21 Avenue and Andrews Avenue
  • Climate resiliency improvements alone Andrews Avenue, NW 7 Avenue, and NE 3 Avenue
  • Drainage replacement along SW 4 Avenue, Andrews Avenue, and SE 3 Avenue
  • 2 bridge/overpass improvements
  • Sidewalks
Penny Sales Tax Question November 6 Ballot

Summary of proposed transit service improvements:

  • 100% funding for capital and operating of Community Bus Service (annually)
  • Installation of new or replacement bus shelters through the city (2019-2048)
  • Enhancement of Broward County Transit’s Downtown Intermodal Terminal (by 2023)
  • New local bus route along McNab Road / Cypress Creek Road (2022) and Griffin Road (2026)
  • New local route extension of route 11 north-south along Rock Island Road to Wiles Road (2020)
  • Headway/schedule improvements to existing local bus routes (2019-2029)
  • Rapid Bus service along US 441 (2021)
  • Rapid Bus service along US 1 (south of downtown to Aventura, north of downtown to Sample Road) (2027)
  • Rapid Bus service along Oakland Park Boulevard (2024)
  • Rapid Bus service along Dixie Highway (2039)
  • Light Rail Transportation service from downtown Fort Lauderdale Convention Center / Port Everglades / Airport and along Broward Boulevard to US 441 (in service 2023-2025) LTR service north-south along US 441 from Commercial Boulevard to Stirling Road (in service 2027)
  • LRT service from US 441, along Broward and Sunrise Boulevards to Sawgrass Mills (in service 2031)
For a full description on all proposed transportation project summaries across Broward County’s 31 municipalities, click here.

The question we’ve all been itching to ask… who is going to pay for all this?

Generally speaking, the tax will be applied to ready-to-eat food items from restaurants and delis, and all tangible purchases (clothes, jewelry, appliance, furniture, electronics, and so on). There is a $5000 cap on the tax so if you’re in the market for a new car you purchase won’t be tax-burdened. Additionally, the tax does not apply to medicine and groceries (if not prepared or sold for immediate consumption).

The Florida Department of Revenue provides a list of all taxable and exempt items.

The surtax would charge an additional penny for every dollar sold in Broward County. This will generate tens of billions of dollars in revenue over a 30 year period, at which point we will vote for renewal. Another positive for Broward voters is that 30% of revenue would be paid by non-Broward residents. You know those 13 million annual visitors? Well, they’re going to play a huge role in our countywide renovation.

Furthermore, this surtax could be leveraged to generate an additional $3 billion dollars from outside sources on the state and federal level.

If you think this is all politics and no people, guess again. An Oversight Board nominated by independent community members will:

  • Act in a fiduciary role
  • Evaluate surtax projects’ appropriateness and eligibility
  • Remove politics from the project review process
  • Monitor revenue, expenses, assumptions, and forecasts
  • Assure projects are delivered on time and within budget
  • Track and report on progress milestones

Conclusion

We need to take the right steps to connect communities across Broward County. We believe the most important step this year is voting in favor of the penny sales tax on the November 6 ballot.

Redesigning our transportation funding infrastructure should not be postponed another day. If we act this year we will see results within the first five years.

Need more reasons to vote “YES” on November 6? Here you go!

The beginning stages (the first 5 years):

  • Fiber optic; traffic congestion relief/traffic flow improvements
  • Some bike, pedestrian, sidewalk, school safety, and greenways
  • Fully-funded community bus program
  • Paratransit service enhancements (to meet demand)
  • Some city-requested projects
  • Some light rail infrastructure
  • Express bus route expansion
  • Bus service in areas not currently served (new routes), improvements on existing routes (more frequency), as well as 7-day-per-week and longer service hours on many routes
Penny Sales Tax Question November 6 Ballot