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Two half-cents make a whole lot of sense in moving Broward forward

Two half-cents make a whole lot of sense in moving Broward forward

By Mayor Greg Ross, President, Broward League of Cities

Unlike the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, I strongly support the two half-cent surtaxes proposed on the November 8th ballot.  As an elected official, I believe that our county and cities best understand the needs of our taxpayers as we have been elected by them to ensure that public services and quality of life needs meet their expectations.  It has long been said that local government is the form closest to the citizens and in the case of the proposed ballot items, it is certainly true.  There are several key points that cannot be disputed:

The surtax will provide a local dedicated source of revenue, which will enable our cities and county to leverage dollars for transportation and infrastructure projects to obtain federal and state matching grants. This is especially important because Broward is a donor county – we send more tax dollars to Tallahassee and Washington, DC than we receive.  The ability to have a local match will bring home dollars for critically important transportation and infrastructure projects. Under the current structure, taxes paid by Broward County residents are being spent in other states because we do not have the ability to apply for certain grants or projects We must change this situation by supporting the two surtax ballot items.

Revenue collected through the surtax is dedicated solely for transportation and infrastructure projects – no funds will be comingled.  Funds will be deposited into a segregated trust fund and can only be used to pay for projects approved by an independent, nine-member oversight board. Dollars will be distributed based on the population of each city, just as it is currently being done at our 6% sales tax rate. Each city will be responsible for the planning, development and expenditures of the surtax within their city.  All approved projects are subject to an annual audit by an external, independent certified public accountant.

Another area where there is confusion on the part of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board is light rail, specifically the east-west route. There is overall recognition of the need to provide reliable public transportation to move people from the west side of the county to the east. Rail has been determined to be a cost effective solution. The east-west corridor route will be determined by working closely with stake-holders, considering changes in technology, supply and demand, and shifts in population. Although the Sun Sentinel questioned why the exact route has not been identified today, the reality is that the final location of the rail will be decided upon as a result of appropriate planning, design and engineering, not because of a need to make a premature decision to satisfy naysayers.  This is the prudent way to make this decision, certainly not negligent or political in any nature.

As important as the need for the surtax is the unprecedented co-operation that has occurred between the municipalities and county government in order to bring the final surtax plan to fruition. It was this spirit of cooperation that created dialogue and compromise, and the resulting two surtaxes. The voters must vote YES on both ballot items in order for them to pass. The linking of the two surtaxes has reinforced the resolve of all of us to work collaboratively for the long term betterment of our communities,

Finally, we must all realize that there is a direct correlation between the quality of our transportation and infrastructure systems and our economic development potential.  Better transportation and infrastructure will improve our quality of life, create jobs, provide economic and social opportunities, and attract new businesses to Broward County. Now is the time for all of us to step up and make sure that our community has a solid foundation for the future.

I urge you to find out more about the surtax at www.APennyAtWork.com and to make an educated vote on November 8th.

Two half-cents make a whole lot of sense in moving Broward forward!

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    About The Poster

    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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