Glades 1-cent tax not exactly new; it replaces discretionary surtax

Guest Commentary

By Donna Storter Long
Special to the Lake Okeechobee News

MOORE HAVEN — This is Public Service Announcement: The Glades County Board of Commissioners is NOT ADDING A NEW TAX!

Here is the history of the Glades County 1-cent sales tax change:

The current 1-cent discretionary sales surtax was adopted by Glades County Ordinance 2006-17 under the authority of Florida Statute 212.055(2). The September 2006 primary election resulted in referendum approval of Ordinance 2006-17, levying a 1-cent surtax for:

1) Construction of additional office space and maintenance facilities;
2) Construction, upgrade and expansion of road system and drainage;
3) Construction, upgrade and expansion of county or municipal public works; and
4) Improvement of community centers and recreational facilities.

It is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021.

The minutes of 2006 meetings disclosed acknowledgment by the county commissioners that the use of discretionary surtax revenue is severely limited and does NOT include funding infrastructure repairs, maintenance, nor operating expenses such as utilities and insurance.

Currently: In April 2020, our county attorney brought to our attention that we have another option for small counties. If we allow the current surtax to sunset Dec. 31, 2021, we can begin on Jan. 1, 2022, collecting the 1-cent Small County Sales Tax under Florida Statute 212.055(3).

We have discussed this option at multiple meetings. The City of Moore Haven would receive 20% of the tax revenue collected, and the county will get 80%. The Moore Haven City Council would develop its own plan for expending these funds. The county will develop its own plan for expending the funds in the unincorporated parts of Glades County. (Currently, the county controls the sales tax fund expenditures throughout the whole county.)

At our last meeting, July 27, we adopted by unanimous vote the publicly advertised (per legal requirements) ordinance for the Small County Tax of 1 percent to begin Jan. 1, 2022, and allowing the current discretionary surtax to cease Dec. 31, 2021.

Though our agenda and minutes are public record, and the ordinance was advertised in legal compliance, NO ONE from the public appeared to make any comments.

We have not yet voted on limitations and restrictions that we may impose on the use of the revenue generated, as it is still 17 months out. Our intent is to maintain separate accounting of this fund and adopt a policy of judicious use. We know have county facilities that are getting in disrepair that may need some of these funds.

The most recent schedule provided by the Glades County Clerk of Court’s Office Finance Department reflects a Dec. 31, 2019, balance of $2,134,104 in the current 1-cent tax fund that was not designated or encumbered for use at that time.

As your elected county commissioner, I pledge to you that your input will be sought and welcomed to help us properly decide on the use of this funding, as well as any future sales tax revenue.

Donna Storter Long is the Glades County commissioner for District 2 and can be reached at 863-885-1138 or by email at dstorter@myglades.com.

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