Broward County rejected a proposed sales tax hike on Tuesday when voters decided against one of two intertwined tax increases.
Voters decided in favor of a tax increase for transportation improvements, but rejected another proposal to increase taxes to pay for infrastructure upgrades.
The tricky part is that, although they were presented as different questions in the ballots, both proposals were intertwined and the failure of one meant the automatic failure of the other. That is what happened on Election Day.
“We couldn’t create one, all-encompassing ballot question because of single-subject requirements,” said Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer. Despite efforts to educate voters, “two questions are very difficult to get passed,” he said.
Stermer advocated for the surtax at panels and public education sessions around the county. He said beyond the two-question challenge, another difficulty was persuading residents who wondered why they should pay for infrastructure improvements that -- in some cases -- could be years or decades down the line.
He acknowledged that’s potentially because the county’s school board has made little progress on school projects for which voters approved an $800-million bond in 2014.
“There were folks who were [expressing] a lack of trust in government based upon some of what was happening with more recent asks,” Stermer said.
The tax increase would have amounted to a penny per dollar, with proceeds split between Broward County and its cities. The county’s portion would have gone to transportation projects including the proposed WAVE light rail system and improvements to intersections. Cities would have received funds for plans to improve parks and drainage, build fire stations and redesign streets to make them safer for bike riders and pedestrians.
Stermer said city and county officials will be reviewing the proposal to decide what to do next about Broward’s severe traffic congestion and other transportation and infrastructure challenges.
“We need to critically evaluate what happened because we’re in a crisis by way of mobility in Broward County,” he said.