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'Guardians of Martin County' Propose Half-Cent Sales Tax to Buy Land in Order to Preserve County's Rural Character

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Photo courtesy www.martin.fl.us
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Martin County-April 8, 2022: A conservation group in Martin County is planning to conduct a survey to gauge the willingness of County residents to increase their sales tax to buy land in order to protect it from development.

The Guardians of Martin County are proposing a half cent increase in the County’s sales tax to raise as much as $750-million for the purchase of 45-thousand acres now in private hands. The goal is to prevent the properties from haphazard development and preserve the rural character of Martin County.

“The Guardians of Martin County’s purpose is to protect the quality of life of Martin County," said Tony Zunino is the Defenders Director. "We feel the environment is critical. What makes Martin County different is that it still has a rural quality to it.”

A survey to gauge support must come first, and Zunino says they've begun that process. If the survey finds support from most of those who are asked, the results will be presented to the Martin County Commissioners who would then have to approve putting it on the ballot. County voters would have the final say in November.

Zunino knows it’s a tall order. “We are very sensitive to that," he said, "and I know that the commissioners are very concerned, which is really why we are very dependent upon this survey to determine whether we go ahead or whether we don’t go ahead. If it’s negative then we’ll wait for another time.”

There’s already another sales tax proposal, already on the ballot, to continue an existing half cent tax for education. If the Defenders of Martin County’s additional half-cent is also approved the County sales tax would rise to 7%.

"I think it’s worth making an effort to see if people will support something like this," said Zunino. "I certainly hope they are because I think conserving conservation land is critical to preserving what we all love about Martin County.”