What's one penny to you?
If you are a Pinellas County resident, it is thousands of capital projects ranging from enhanced flood control and natural resource protection to rebuilt bridges and new emergency facilities – including our Sheriff’s Administration Building in Largo.
The “Penny for Pinellas,” initiated in 1989 and subsequently reapproved in 1997 and 2007, is up for renewal November 7th, when residents will vote on whether to sustain it from 2020 to 2030.
A 1-percent sales tax paid by everyone who spends money in the county, the Penny has supported investments in the areas that matter most to citizens without relying on property taxes. In fact, one-third of revenue has been contributed by the county’s six million annual tourists and seasonal visitors, which provides citizens tangible cost savings.
Since 1990, the Penny has generated more than $3 billion for investments by the county and its 24 cities, which – aside from court and jail facilities – is allocated according to a population-based formula aligning with state statutes.
Previous Penny-funded projects include the widening of Keystone Road, Curlew Creek erosion control, additional hurricane shelter space, the Bayside Bridge, new public safety equipment, and more. The Penny covers the cost of more than 70 percent of local government capital projects such as these and attracts funds from other sources, like state and federal agencies.
As a sales tax, the Penny is not collected on groceries or medications, and it is only collected on the first $5,000 on a purchase.
Before each vote on the Penny’s renewal, county and city officials set priorities based on identified needs in the community, feedback from citizens, results from the annual Citizen Values Survey, and long-term goals outlined in the Pinellas County Strategic Plan.
These priorities are evaluated at least once a year as part of the budget development process to ensure they remain aligned with community needs and available funds.
In March, Pinellas County Government hosted three open house meetings throughout the county to answer citizens’ questions and to hear their feedback on previous and potential Penny projects.
But it’s not too late to educate yourself. Learn about previous Penny-funded projects with an interactive “Accomplishments Map,” see what approving the Penny really means for you, and find out how you can get involved by visiting www.pinellascounty.org/penny.
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