Since 1989, Sarasota County has levied a one-percent sales tax which can be used only for local infrastructure improvements. Seventy-five percent is allocated to the County and its municipalities ( Longboat Key, North Port, Sarasota, Venice ). Twenty-five percent is allocated to Sarasota County schools. This sales tax has a sunset provision, meaning it will expire on December 31, 2024, unless it is renewed for 15 years. ( It was extended twice before. ) On the general election ballot being held November 8, 2022, Sarasota County voters will be asked whether this tax should be continued.
As required by state law, proposed uses ( project list ) of the sales tax monies must be identified in advance of a vote. Sarasota County is earmarking nearly $80 million for its park and recreation system including monies for: a Nathan Benderson Park Connector Trail, a Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvement Program, and a Safe Routes to Schools and Legacy Trail Connectivity Program. The City of North Port is committing money for a Legacy Trail Extension Trailhead and Warm Mineral Springs improvements such as trails, bridges, and picnic shelters. The City of Sarasota will use the sales tax dollars for the Bobby Jones Nature Park and a potential “North Legacy Trail.” All these governmental bodies receiving revenue have plans to improve parks and/or streets and sidewalks.
Interestingly, the project list is part and parcel of the vote, meaning the new tax dollars must be used for the projects already identified. A Citizen Tax Oversight Committee is created ( maintained ) to ensure proceeds are used only for infrastructure and listed projects.
At its meeting on July 11, 2022, the Friends of The Legacy Trail Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution supporting continuance of the sales tax. That resolution states in part: “… ( the eligible units of government ) have identified park and transportation projects which would either directly benefit the Legacy Trail and its connectors or which would enhance destinations our membership would enjoy and utilize ….”
If you are a Sarasota County voter, please consider the merits of the one-percent sales tax extension and vote accordingly on November 8.
Louis W. Kosiba
Friends of The Legacy Trail