April 17, 2017
The Honorable Doug Smith, Chairman
Martin County Board of County Commissioners 2401 SE Monterey Road
Stuart, FL 34996
Re: Proposed additional one cent sales tax
Dear Chairman Smith:
For over 60 years the Martin County Taxpayer's Association has been the fair, responsible and espected watchdog of government spending and funding in Martin County. A part of that heritage has been a long-term positive relationship between our organization and the County Commission. We offer our recommendations and suggestions as to the proposed additional one cent sales tax for Martin County.
Without endorsing or opposing the proposed additional sales tax we are very concerned that the referendum will be presented in an off year, special election. We question the cost of this special election, the date chosen and the chance for success given the short time allowed for public "education" on this issue.
Without careful restrictions placed on the use of the additional tax we cannot determine the need for this additional tax and will have trouble supporting it. We think the use of the money needs to be restricted to only road improvements, traffic signal coordination, bridge repair and replacement, public drainage issues, water quality improvements and septic to sewer conversion. There are many amenities that are nice to have but should not be funded from general sales tax; they should be funded, if at all, by private donation and user fees, not additional sales.
With the FPL surcharge remaining in place for nearly the next thirty years we have to question whether a future Commission will keep your pledge to roll back these charges. We note that Indian River County has imposed additional sales tax while maintaining a 5.9% surcharge. We recommend that the Board delay final decisions on this proposal. Thank you for your consideration. Please know that you are welcome to discuss this with our Board.
Thomas Kenny III
A S S E S S M E N T
A newsletter published by the Martin County Taxpayers Association
Volume XVI Issue 3 - February 2017
Dear Martin County Taxpayer:
Congressman Brian Mast to speak at MCTA Annual Dinner
The MCTA is honored to have Congressman Brian Mast speak at their annual dinner to be held Feb. 22nd at Lost Lake Golf Club in Hobe Sound. Congressman Mast is a former US Army Veteran who now serves as the US Representative of Florida’s 18th congressional district, which includes St. Lucie, Martin, and a portion of Palm Beach County. In 2016 he graduated from Harvard University Extension School with an ALB. To register for this event, please visit our website mctaxpayers.org. RSVP by Feb 15th since seating is limited.
Legislative Delegation - January 5th
The delegation was chaired by the president of the State Senate, Joe Negron. Representatives Gayle Harrell and MaryLynn Magar made up the remainder of the delegation. The delegation presents opportunities for agencies, governments and a variety of other organizations to speak directly to their representatives.
Representatives from Indiantown and Hobe Sound asked the delegation to sponsor bills allowing the local communities to vote on the idea of incorporation. The delegation voted unanimously to sponsor the bills which are required before the vote within the respective geographical areas can take place. If passed by the residents in those areas, Hobe Sound and Indiantown would become two new municipalities.
The MCTA thanked the delegation for their genuine dedication to our area and asked that they continue to pursue strategies that would improve the quantity and quality of the discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Additionally, we also asked the delegation to get engaged, wherever possible, to lessen the impact of All Aboard Florida’s plan to provide high-speed passenger rail service and increased freight traffic through our area.
MCTA Begins Budget Review for 2018
All Aboard Florida or All About Freight (Depending on your viewpoint)
MCTA continues to oppose and monitor the All Aboard Florida Project. Most recently, a High-Speed Passenger Rail Bill (HB 269 / SB 386) is being filed by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R) Vero Beach and the house version is supported by Republican House members MaryLynn Magar of Tequesta, Gayle Harrell of Stuart and Erin Grall of Vero Beach. As outlined by Representative Magar, this legislation not only protects Floridians from the potential dangers of high-speed trains by ensuring the appropriate safety technology is in place, but also protects their tax dollars by ensuring the appropriate entity pays for those upgrades. It provides powers and duties of the Dept. of Transportation, and also provides minimum safety standards and requires compliance with federal laws and regulations. Railroad companies will solely be responsible to construct, improve and maintain the rail corridor which will take the burden off local governments and the state.
Martin County Administrator, Taryn Kryzda, recently submitted a guest column in the Stuart News on Jan. 12th and vows the County will continue to fight. Ms. Kryzda stated that as a result of the county’s litigation, a federal judge found that AAF Florida “had no likely ability to fund and construct the West Palm Beach to Orlando phase without taxpayer subsidies.” She also notes the county’s recent study concluded that taxpayers could be on the tab for upgrade and maintenance costs that may total $13.5 million in 2020 and climb over $31 million by 2030. Because of the county litigation, All Aboard Florida and the DOT abandoned a $1.75 billion taxpayer subsidized bond allocation and instead went to Plan B — a recently conceived “new” $600 million taxpayer-subsidized bond allocation that will purportedly finance only the Miami-to-West Palm Beach phase of the project.
While the West Palm Beach to the Miami segment is moving forward, the completion of our portion of the project still faces many challenges due primarily to our strong opposition through the legal system and the court of public opinion. The burden to taxpayers is not the only reason to oppose this project, however it is one of the issues that greatly concern us. This is why we support the county’s legal battle against All Aboard Florida/Brightline.
If you are a member of the Martin County Taxpayers Association, great. If you know someone who would be interested in our mission, please pass along this newsletter and our website address, or like us on Facebook.
The Martin County Taxpayers’ Association is a Not for Profit Corporation
President: Thomas Kenny III, Vice President: Diane McKechnie, Secretary: Richard Geisinger, Treasurer: William Schmidt
Directors: Sandy Brownlow, David Collier, Ike Crumpler, Thomas Fogt, Darlene Fuggetta, Rick Hartman, Don Pickard, KC Ingram Traylor, Frank Wacha