Polk County would charge highest sales tax in state under proposal on November ballot

In just three months, Polk County voters will head to the polls to make an important decision that will increase the sales tax to the highest in the state.
 
But in return, homeowners will get a break on their property taxes.
 
The measure is a hot button issue among voters. Anytime there's a proposal to raise taxes, there is no doubt some controversy.
 
"Right now we don't have the money to build new roads," said Gene Engle, who is on a crusade not just to educate but to convince voters that a tax increase will do some good for them.
 
"We must find another source," he said, talking about the pot of money they need to create to fix old roads.
 
The tax increase will also enhance public transportation to connect every Polk County city, including routes to Disney World, Tampa International Airport and beyond.
 
The proposal will cost everyone one extra penny on every dollar spent in the county, making Polk County the highest for sales tax in Florida at eight percent.
 
But the tradeoff is the average homeowner will save roughly $125 a year on their property tax bill.
 
Dan Frodge worries about the impact on the unemployed.
 
"I think this is a tremendous hit for them to increase it to eight percent," he said.
 
That's not all he's concerned about. He calls it simply bad for business.
 
Think about it this way: If you buy a $20,000 car, the tax will cost an extra $200 in Polk than in Hillsborough County.
 
"That might be the incentive to go to another county," he said.
 
But advocates like Engle say you have to remember the annual savings. That tradeoff, he said, will make it worth it.
 
The alternative if the measure fails this November, he said, might not be much better.
 
"County commissioners are going to have no choice but within another year or so to increase real estate taxes," he said.
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