Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker is scheduled to address concerns some black business owners and residents have about the plan to raise the 6-cent sales tax by a penny on the dollar.
Baker will discuss the county’s plans at 6 p.m. today at Gray’s Temple CME Church at 523 18th St. in West Palm Beach.
The sales tax increase would raise $2.7 billion over 10 years for upgrades to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings. Cities, the county, the Palm Beach County School District and arts projects backed by the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County would share the proceeds.
Some black business owners have asked Baker how they can make sure their firms get an opportunity to bid for some of the work that will be undertaken if the sales tax is approved by voters.
UNIFY, a black community group, says today’s town hall is the first of eight that will be held throughout the county on the sales tax plan.
“These town halls will give an opportunity to the county, school district, the municipalities and Cultural Council to earn the votes of the black community in favor of this referendum,” the group said in a statement announcing the town hall with Baker. “Pervasive segregation and discrimination have long prevented many minorities from achieving equal access to economic opportunities. The case is not different for Palm Beach County. While there have been some efforts to provide a more inclusive environment for (minority- and women-owned businesses), the focus is still far from where it needs to be.”