Local leaders launch surtax campaign for November

Alachua County Commissioner Anna Prizzia said at the press conference that the county needs the additional half-cent surtax to keep up infrastructure maintenance.
Alachua County Commissioner Anna Prizzia said at the press conference that the county needs the additional half-cent surtax to keep up infrastructure maintenance. (Photo by Seth Johnson)

Community leaders launched a campaign on Monday to pass a ballot initiative slated for public vote on Nov. 8, encouraging the public to support a 10-year, one-cent surtax that Alachua County approved in March.   

Hosted at the Hogtown Creek Headwaters Park, speakers hit on both the need to continue the Wild Spaces Public Places (WSPP) program and Alachua County’s need to improve roadways and other infrastructure that has fallen behind in maintenance.  

Alachua County currently has a half-cent surtax for WSPP, and the proposed surtax would keep that program untouched while adding the other half cent for different infrastructure projects.  

With development coming, Tom Kay, executive director of Alachua Conservation Trust, said the county needs to ensure protection of natural resources proactively. New growth also forces the need for new parks to enjoy that are close residents—like the city of Gainesville’s goal of a park within a 10-minute walk of all residents.  

“I think that’s one of the big driving factors for this is just ensuring that we have those parks, and that they’re places that people want to visit,” Kay said in an interview after the press conference. 

For Joy Glanzer, former Newberry commissioner, the roads and housing side of the surtax bought her support. She said the program will send funds to rural communities that lack the property tax income to maintain infrastructure.  

“It wasn’t until I served as city commissioner that I realized the dire straits that we really are in for roads, infrastructure, and everything that goes with it,” Glanzer said in an interview after the press conference. “I also support the [WSPP], but the roads and infrastructure half cent is my passion.” 

Glanzer called the surtax a fair way to ensure everyone invests in the programs they use. She also pointed out that visitors will help fund the infrastructure they use when visiting. On days like Saturday, out-of-county visitors pour into Gainesville and pack the Swamp, buying from local stores and funding the local surtax.  

“The renters, the students and everybody will pay their fair share of the roads that they use instead of just the property owners,” Glanzer said.  

The revenue from the surtax will split between Alachua County and all nine municipalities through a state formula based on population. With this formula, Alachua County and Gainesville will receive more than 90% of the funds.  

Here’s a full breakdown with estimated revenue over all 10 years:  

Alachua County—$280 million; 56.98% 

Gainesville—$174.1 million; 35.45% 

Alachua—$13.6 million; 2.76% 

Newberry—$9 million; 1.8% 

High Springs—$8.6 million; 1.7% 

Hawthorne—$1.9 million; 0.39% 

Archer—$1.6 million; 0.32% 

Waldo—$1.2 million; 0.25% 

Micanopy—866,000; 0.18% 

La Crosse—$511,000; 0.1% 

County Commissioner Anna Prizzia spoke at the press conference and emphasized the need for the funds, even as the county adds general fund dollars toward roads.  

“We need the support to get those roads up to snuff and begin doing the maintenance and the deferred maintenance that’s been dragging along for years, as well as investing in land and construction of affordable housing,” Prizzia said.  

Per state law, Alachua County can only institute one infrastructure surtax at a time, forcing officials to combine roads with WSPP. The county proposed surtaxes that only included roads in 2004, 2012 and 2014, but voters turned down the option.  

The votes in favor of the roads surtax were 47.5% in 2004, 32.7% in 2012 and 40% in 2014.   

The WSPP half-cent surtax started in 2008 and renewed in 2016 for another eight years. The program has two years to go, but county commissioners wanted to try to add the extra half-cent before running up to the deadline. If the surtax fails, Commissioner Ken Cornell said he would vote to put just the WSPP half-cent back on the ballot for 2024.  

In 2016, the WSPP program passed with just over 60% of the vote—up from 51.5% in 2008. 

In the past six years, Alachua County has used the WSPP funds to purchase 13,405 acres for conservation. Since 2000, the county has purchased 32,506 acres. Alachua County settled on its largest land purchase earlier this year.  

If approved in November, the county can continue with conservation purchases. According to background information at the press conference, the county may look to reduce how much land it purchases and invest more in the parks already bought. Since 2016, the county has used 90% of its WSPP funds to buy land and 10% for parks and active recreation.  

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Kevin

Dose anyone know where the get the details of the ballot initiative? It would be helpful to know more about it before I vote.

Tim Marden

Here you go

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Sherri S

How does buying land for affordable housing align with conservation of land?
Road repair & conservation projects seem counterintuitive to me. Wrapping everything together = no guarantee that the needed projects are attended to, and pet project easily slide in there, when it comes time to write the check.
That’s a no for me.

James Duncan

When all the visitors leave ,wonder who will still be paying the surtax?

Anthony

Ken Cornell and Anna Prizza enjoy the fruits of their day jobs so much until they don’t care about the damage they cause when they serve in their part-time commissioner job. Trying to entice voters to vote themselves another 10-year regressive tax under the pretense it will be a boon to the county is not only cynicle but it shows the extent this tax-and-spend board will go to to protect their developer friends from having to pay their fair-share for the impacts new development is having on our roads budget. They refuse to end the developer discounts being given through the MMTM program.
http://www.no-tax-tony.com/no-tax-tony/singleShow/?video_name=1

Vote NO! on any new tax proposal until we get candidates elected who understand simple economics like
new taxes only add to inflation when you are in the checkout line. We need candidates who value the importance of creating conditions to entice companies to bring better paying jobs to our area rather than commissioners that always favor taking the lazy way out by raising taxes.

James Duncan

Total agreement. Let’s see what the canoe business bought by High Springs brings in before we consider any new tax.

rogergcam

Nobody is giving me a raise in my social security income to support this. I just cannot afford this. I also agree 100% with Anthony! The people of Alachua county are not a piggy bank you can continue to make withdraws from!

Mike

Why are people spending taxpayer money and time on the promotion of political items?

LackOfCriticalThinking

They claim it’s for road and infrastructure maintenance. Shouldn’t a responsible budget already include current and future infrastructure maintenance as part of the already exorbitant property tax revenue?What are they doing with the money that already comes in?

If they want visitors to pay, then the surtax should only apply during home game weekends.

This is a reflection of those who actually vote which is a small percentage of registered voters in the county. Sad.

TeachYourChildren

The AC BOCC Group of 4 is running a “BOO HOO” campaign to convince their Democrat constituents to stay with them and better times are coming! But not for roads! For swampland and other purchases and improvements to the parts of Alachua County where they live! That is within Gainesville city limits and Keystone Heights! Anyone living outside these areas must pay taxes and shut the hell up because these four know what is good for the masses, just like the Socialist Gainesville City Council! If you are a Republican or an Independent you should be outraged at the bald faced lies these “Tree-hugging Flower Children” tell at public events!

Per their own Public Works Director and Senior Engineer, the state of Alachua County roads was “Poor to fair” during the last major discussion addressing roads on September 14, 2021! The current Group of 4 Democrats on the BOCC could care less about County roads outside GNV city limits! Here is an excerpt from the briefing given by Mr. Ramon Gavarrete at the September 14, 2021, meeting where he briefed the BOCC on road condition: “Alachua County has about 700 miles of roads, with about 1400 lane-miles. The current backlog (the amount of money needed to bring the whole network up to good condition) is over $408 million. 94% of the money in the pie chart on the left is for roads that require “anywhere from a rehab to a reconstruction… Or if you go by treatment, 84% of your network is in dire need of having some kind of rehab or reconstruction already.” Gavarrete said it’s “basically deferred maintenance for the last… 20, 30 years. We have roadways in this county that were paved 40 years ago.” Here is the link to that meeting as published by Ms. Cabrera in the Alachua Chronicle: https://alachuachronicle.com/84-of-alachua-countys-road-network-in-dire-need-of-repair/

It is simply unfathomable that these road conditions are acceptable to anyone who drives on a road in Alachua County! There is in fact a Gas Tax in Alachua County (the BOCC will never pass on an opportunity to get your money and blow it on a swamp) referred to by Mr. Gavarrette in the 14 September meeting but nearly half (5 of each 11 cents) of the is spent on “future capacity”! Really, where are these new roads? The future is knocking and looking for it’s roads! What a crock!

Each of the Group of 4 commented that they basically were for fixing the roads and adding funds to make repairs, add $2 Million a year from the General Fund! In fact, if you check the Alachua County budget reports for the last few years, there is approximately $17M annually collected in Gas Tax! So these four are blowing smoke up your pant leg! Where is that money spent???? All I see is potholes when I drive from one end of the county to the other on a daily basis!

Vote no for any additional taxes until we see improvements in roads using current funding! It is called a budget for a reason! No blank checks for the Group of 4! Hell, vote them out and don’t vote for anyone who has tried to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes!

Vote NO on November 8th!

MRyan

Vote NO, they City needs to learn how to manage a budget with funds we already pay. They keep raising our electric bills, then add small taxes here and there that add up! They always say it’s for road upkeep. Clearly not since in the past the taxes they added didn’t do much to upgrade streets. In Old Northwood / Spring tree neighborhood on NW 48th Ave we have small patches here and there. Holes in the road keep happening after heavy rains. Clearly a patch isn’t the solution. I worry about a sink hole opening, when they could have added fill to repair, or replace the street, not just a small patch over the last patch. They put in a new sidewalk on NW 34th street. No one really walks there, what a waste that could have helped repair our neighborhood streets. I vote NO manage the funds we already pay make practical choices.