This Election Day, Broward County voters are being asked to consider two half-cent sales tax increases. The proceeds would be split between the county and its cities, funding county transportation improvements and city infrastructure. But it's not just a question of, "Do we want higher taxes?" Voters have to decide whether they trust officials to carry out plans for the extra money.
That’s a thorny question in Broward. In 2014, voters emphatically approved an $800 million bond issue that was supposed to fix problems in county schools like leaking roofs and mold. But two years and a bunch of problems later, not very many of those repairs have happened.
"It’s still money," says Terry Scott, a community activist from Deerfield Beach. "These folks need a true, true understanding before we go back to the polls and we do what we did before and we still get nothing."
Officials say they’re striving for transparency. They’re holding community forums, and a website shows how the county and each city would spend the additional money. A nine-member oversight committee would approve projects and monitor their progress. Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer says the sales tax increase is vital for decreasing bus wait times and synchronizing green lights.
"If you like today’s congestion, vote no," Stermer said. "If you think we can get better as a community, regardless as a city or a county, you have to vote yes."
If Broward votes down one of the proposed half-cent increases, the other fails as well. If Broward approves both, they’ll go into effect Jan. 1.