One of the major issues that will be decided by Collier County voters on November 6 will revolve around the referendum question as to whether to raise the local sales tax by one penny, to seven cents on the dollar, for some goods and services being paid for the next seven years. At the end of seven years the additional one-cent would be removed by the provisions of the referendum.
It is anticipated that the one-cent increase would bring in an additional $490 million dollars in revenue over the seven-year period. From that revenue, the county would utilize $420 million for needed capital projects, while the remaining $70 million would be allocated (according to population) between the City of Marco Island, the City of Naples and Everglades City.
- Groceries, medical services, medications and fuel would be exempted from the tax.
- The tax would only be collected on the first $5,000 of large purchases of tangible personal property, or a maximum of $50 on any single purchase.
- Purchases of services, service warranties, real property and transient accommodation would be subject to the tax for the full amount.
None of the monies may be utilized for operational costs or salaries. The monies raised must be used for infrastructure costs.
Examples of projects that could be paid for should the referendum pass and the additional revenue stream realized, include:
- Funding the capital improvements to Veterans Community Park.
- Replacement of some of Marco Island’s aging bridges.
- Provide the necessary funds for hardening of municipal buildings around the island from potential storm damage.
- Funding storm water improvements around the island.
- Improving roadways around the island.
- Construction of other necessary public works project.
No serious dialogue regarding the referendum or what those monies could be used for has been held at the city council level on Marco Island and no public input has been sought.
It is anticipated that 30-35% of the revenue received from this proposal would be recovered from seasonal visitors. Should the $490 million target goal be obtained before the seven-year sunset provision, the one-cent increase would be removed.
The City of Marco Island would realize a windfall of $4.4 million a year for the next seven years should the projections be met for the anticipated $490 million increase from the passage of the referendum.
Proponents of the measure point out that the influx of tourists would be responsible for helping to fund some of these necessary infrastructure projects, rather than relying solely upon property tax revenues.