County, city voters to decide on sales tax, pick new commissioner

County, city voters to decide on sales tax, pick new commissioner

Early voting is underway now through August 26 at the county elections office for city residents to select a new commissioner and for all residents to decide on a sales tax referendum.

The Martin County Election Center, 135 S.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Stuart, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Sundays.

Voters are being asked to consider a one-cent increase in the sales tax to help fund major infrastructure and public works projects over the next 10 years, as do all but five counties statewide.

Currently, Martin County does not expect tourists and visitors to help cover the cost of roads, bridges, fire stations, etc., and instead depends on residents’ property taxes and a fee on all electric bills, called a franchise fee.

Should the sales tax pass, increasing the sales tax from six to seven percent, the six-percent franchise fee on electric bills in unincorporated areas of the county would be reduced to the minimum rate of half-of-one percent, according to a county law passed in July.

Of the $230 million raised in sales tax over the next 10 years, at least 35 percent of the revenue would be dedicated to septic-to-sewer conversions, drainage improvements and other work to eliminate pollutants seeping into the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

The sales tax referendum has been endorsed by the Martin County Tax Association, the Realtors Association of Martin County, government committees of four of the county’s five chambers of commerce, the City of Stuart, the Town of Jupiter Island, the police and firefighters’ unions, the Economic Council of Martin County, among others.

Opposing the referendum is the Republican Executive Committee of Martin County and The Stuart News editorial board.

For a more comprehensive report on the sales tax and its impact on residents, be sure to pick up a copy of Martin County Currents, distributed August 22-24 throughout Martin County.

City of Stuart voters also will choose from among three candidates for the Group II commission seat now held by Jeffrey Krauskopf, who is retiring.

None of the three — Becky Bruner, Tyler Green-James and Ron Rose — has held elective office previously.

Bruner, owner of Beck’s Fine Furniture, is currently a member of the city Community Redevelopment and Independent Review advisory boards. Rose, president/CEO of the Jensen Beach Chamber of Commerce, is the current president of the Business Development Board of Martin County and is active in the Junior Achievement program at Jensen Beach High School.

Green-James graduated in May from Indian River State College with a bachelor’s degree in public administration and works at the college bookstore.

Bruner was endorsed by The Stuart News editorial board.