This Post continues a series where we look at The Sales Tax Ordinance, Ordinance 13- 34, and compare it to what is being said by the sales tax supporters.
Here is a link to the actual Ordinance (Law) that you are being asked to approve in the sales Tax Referendum: Greenlight Pinellas Tax Ordinance.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF OUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA, in a meeting duly assembled this 10th day of December, 2013 that
Section I. Incorporation of Recitals. The above findings and recitals are hereby incorporated herein and made a part of this Ordinance.
This Section insures that all of the Comments in the Whereas Section and Preamble are included as part of the Ordinance that will become law if approved.
Section 2. Surtax. Imposition and Levy of the Charter County and Regional Transportation System
(a) There is levied and imposed by Pinellas County ("County"), the Charter County and Regional Transportation System Surtax authorized by Section 212.055(1), Florida Statutes, throughout the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Pinellas County, at the rate of one percent (1%) on transactions taxable pursuant to Section 212.054, Florida Statutes, subject to the approval of a majority of the electors of Pinellas County voting in a referendum election called for the purpose of determining whether such Surtax should be levied. (b) The levy of the Surtax, if approved by a majority of the electors as required by paragraph 2(a) shall be limited to the purposes set forth in this Ordinance and shall take effect January 1, 2016, and shall remain in effect until December 31st of the year in which the levy is repealed as provided by law
This Section establishes the County's authority under the State statute to levy the sales tax and sets up the taxable items according to Florida law. The amount of the sales tax is set at one (1) percent with no provision for a gradual ramp up of the tax amount.
You will also note that the use of the Tax is limited to the purpose set forth in the Ordinance and is to remain in effect until December 31 in the year in which the levy is repealed by law.
Note that any bond issue where the sales tax is pledged as a bond revenue source would prevent any repeal of the sales tax and there is no provision preventing refinancing of any initial bond issue which could without voter approval keep the sales tax in force.
In fact in the recent Interlocal Agreement between Pinellas County and the PSTA the financing period is set to be 50 years with two 20 year renewals. That is a total of 90 years that the sales tax could be in place without any option for the voters to repeal it.
Section 3. Administration, Collection and Enforcement. The Florida Department of Revenue shall have all responsibility for the administration, collection, and enforcement of the Surtax levied pursuant to this Ordinance.
This Section establishes the Florida Department of Revenue as the authority for administration, collection, and enforcement of the Surtax levied pursuant to this Ordinance, but the County will distribute the funds via a series on undefined interlocal agreements to PSTA.
The County and PSTA are currently frantically trying to formalize these interlocal agreements even before the Referendum vote takes place.