Sales tax plan moving forward as cities give OK

Palm Beach County voters will have their say in November on whether the sales tax should be raised to pay for upgrades to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings.

County Administrator Verdenia Baker said city councils and commissions representing a majority of municipal residents have voted in favor of the proposed sales tax plan. She said that, by week’s end, city councils and commissions representing 63 percent of municipal residents will have backed the sales tax plan.

Those approvals were the last hurdle to placing a sales tax referendum on the ballot. The County Commission and School Board have already given their blessing to a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase, which would generate $2.7 billion over the next 10 years.

Cities would get 20 percent of the proceeds. The county would get 30 percent, and the Palm Beach County School District would get the rest.

County staff members have identified $696 million in projects that would be paid for with sales tax money. Some of that money would be spent on new projects, though Baker said they, too, address the county’s backlog of needs.

The projects list isn’t final.

Baker said her staff is still reviewing the list, which could grow before being finalized and made public at some still-undetermined date.

The county’s share of the sales tax proceeds is estimated to be about $810 million, but Baker said she will not recommend a projects list that spends all of that money. She said it will be her recommendation to leave room for adjustments as the cost of fuel and building materials change.

County Administrator Verdenia Baker

County Administrator Verdenia Baker