The Moving Alachua County Forward referendum will institute an eight-year, 1 cent sales tax to fund various transportation projects if the initiative is approved in November. These projects include road repair and maintenance, bus system improvements and bicycle and pedestrian projects. But, what exactly is Moving Alachua County Forward all about? Check out the basics of the plan below!
• Alachua County has a $380 million backlog in needed road repairs.
• Current average pavement age is 26 years.
• If no changes are made to funding, the average pavement age in the year 2030 will be 40 years old.
• Gas taxes make up the predominant source of revenue for transportation system operations, maintenance and capital.
• The State of Florida required Alachua County to take over 200 miles of roadways in the late 1980s without sufficient funding to maintain them.
• Gas Tax revenues are not enough to address the need because:
◦ Gas tax revenues have dropped in recent years due to more fuel efficient vehicles.
◦ As fuel costs rise, so do construction costs.
◦ Gas taxes are not adjusted for inflation (prices are fixed).
◦ Since 2008, however, revenues from fuel taxes have decreased by nearly 7 percent (more than $600,000).
• The State of Florida makes discretionary surtaxes available to counties to raise the large sums of monies needed to pay for large projects such as buildings, parks, health care or in this case, transportation projects.
• Of 67 counties in Florida, Alachua County is one of only 12 not levying a discretionary surtax. Seven of the right counties surrounding Alachua County have a surtax.
• The MOVING ALACHUA COUNTY FORWARD one percent transportation sale surtax requires a majority vote of the County electorate on the November 4, 2014 ballot.
• The MOVING ALACHUA COUNTY FORWARD surtax is a 1 percent (1 Cent) sales surtax for eight years.
• The surtax is estimated to bring in $30 million per year in revenues.
• This means at least $240 million for transportation projects over its year life.
• By law, the MOVING ALACHUA COUNTY FORWARD dollars must be spent on transportation projects
• Ninety-five percent of Alachua County’s share of the surtax will go to road repairs and maintenance.
• The remaining five percent will go to bicycle and pedestrian projects.
• When looking at all projects, both County and cities, approximately 80 percent ($4 out of every $5) of the funding will go to road repair and maintenance. The remaining 20 percent will go to bicycle, pedestrian and bus service enhancement projects.
• If passed, the surtax is subject to an oversight committee and an annual audit.
• The ordinance authorizes a transportation surtax of one percent upon most taxable transactions within incorporated and unincorporated Alachua County. It will not be charged on groceries, prescription medicines or housing. The sales amount above $5,000 on any item of tangible personal property shall not be subject to the surtax. An estimated 30 percent of the surtax revenue will be paid by visitors to Alachua County.
• If passed, the surtax proceeds will plan, develop, finance, construct, reconstruct, operate, provide capital improvements and maintain county and municipal roads and bridges, bus systems and bicycle and pedestrian projects.
• The County will share the surtax proceeds with the County’s municipalities based on the following percentages: Unincorporated Alachua County- 43.24 percent, Alachua- 3.74 percent, Archer- 0.57 percent, Gainesville- 43.24 percent, Hawthorne- 0.87 percent, High Springs- 3.31 percent, La Crosse- 0.12 percent, Micanopy- 0.69 percent, Newberry- 3.67 percent, Waldo - 0.55 percent, for a total of 100 percent of surtax distribution
• Unlike gas tax, the surtax will rise and fall with inflation.
• If the surtax is approved by voters, it would be effective January 1, 2015. The County and cities would be able to bond expected funds if necessary to begin projects as soon as they were ready.
• It will assist replacing RTS aging fleet. By 2015, over a third of RTS’s fleet will be past their useful life, 70 percent by 2022.
• It will improve transit amenities. Over 80 percent of RTS’ stops currently lack the improvements necessary to be fully accessible.
• If passed, it will increase RTS service, especially on weekends.
• If passed, specific funding will go towards a Senior Transportation Initiative in order to provide access for Seniors to the Senior Recreation Center and other community and daily destinations.