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Florida TaxWatch: November Voters Approved $1.5 Billion in Annual Local Tax Increases

December 12, 2018 - 11:15am

Independent watchdog Florida TaxWatch on Wednesday released a follow-up to its 2018 Voter Guide, detailing local tax measures and new bond issues that voters approved last month. It also provides an update on what's next for the 11 amendments now part of the Florida Constitution.

The report shows voters in many Florida counties were in a generous mood on Nov. 6, voting in favor of $1.5 billion in county and school district sales and property tax increases. In addition, voters in two counties and eight cities approved $1.2 billion in local government bond issues, which will necessitate property tax increases to pay off the bonds.

This follows tax increases for 11 additional counties and four special districts that were approved by voters during the primary election in August. These August increases totaled $335 million annually.

“On the ballot, these tax increases may not seem like much, but they do add up,” said Florida TaxWatch Chairman Pat Neal. “A valuable resource like Florida TaxWatch is needed now more than ever to keep taxpayers informed and to hold government accountable.”

No tax increase failed in November and only one bond issue (Cooper City) failed.  Most passed easily. Notable exceptions were sales tax referendums in Collier and Lee counties that just squeaked over 50 percent "yes" votes.

On the plus side, Florida taxpayers have shown they are willing to pay more taxes if they feel the return will be worth it. Nine counties passed tax increases for schools, five more counties approved sales tax increases to fund transportation and other infrastructure need, and Alachua County approved a Children’s Trust with the authority to levy up to one-half mill in property taxes to fund services for children. In addition, many of the tax referendums created a citizen oversight committee to monitor the spending of these new dollars.

“It’s clear that Florida taxpayers are committed to funding local government services if the return on investment is worthwhile,” said Florida TaxWatch President & CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “While this commitment to improving schools and transportation is commendable, it is imperative that taxpayers stay involved in the process to ensure that their money is going to the right place.”

Read the FULL analysis here.

Florida TaxWatch is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog & taxpayer research institute, at work in the Sunshine State for nearly 40 years. It is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. For more information, click here.


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