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Martin County Commission Will Decide Whether to Place Sales Tax Increase on Ballot, After Survey of Public Sentiment

2021 Martin County Commissioners.png
Photo courtesy martin.fl.us
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The Commission voted 4 to 1 to consider the results of the Guardians survey at their May 17th meeting, and then decide whether to put the sales tax increase on the ballot.

Stuart-April 5, 2022: The Martin County Commissioners are divided over whether to place another half-cent sales tax increase on the ballot for county residents to decide. They’ll make a decision next month after they get the results of a survey on the issue.

Guardians of Martin County representative Tony Zunino went before the Martin County Board of Commissioners last week to appeal for support for placing an initiative on the ballot to raise the sales tax by a half-cent for ten years to purchase 45-thousand acres of land for conservation. “The Guardians feel that the preservation of these conservation properties is critical to preserving the Martin County difference," said Zunino.

The Guardians are paying for a survey to be conducted to find out whether residents would be receptive to a half-cent tax increase to conserve rural land in the county. If the results are generally positive, Zunino asked that the Commission support placing the proposed tax increase on the ballot for the voters to decide.

Commissioner Doug Smith was non-committal saying -“I think them (the Guardians) reaching out and wanting to help us get this looked at before we commit to it is a perfectly reasonable idea.”

Commissioners Sarah Heard however went further saying - “I at this point would favor a half a cent and hopefully for ten years.” And Commissioner Harold Jenkins concurred - "I agree with Commissioner Heard with the half-cent. That’s where we need to be in ten years.”

Commissioner Stacy Hetherington expressed her doubts - “When I go out and talk to people I’m pretty clear that the uncertainty in inflation, and the economy, as much as I think many of us would want a successful land acquisition program, there is less, and less, chance of us having that be successful.”

Commissioner Edward Ciampa said 'no' to any tax increase - “There needs to be funding for this program. But I’m not in favor of this particular strategy, but I am in favor of a brainstorming session for a strategy on how we can raise these funds for this land. But I can’t support a half a cent sales tax.”

The Commission voted 4 to 1 to consider the results of the Guardians survey at their May 17th meeting. If it shows residents generally favor a tax increase to buy land for conservation, then they'll decide whether to place the half-cent tax increase on the ballot or not. Commissioner Ciampa was the only Commissioner to vote no.