Election Day 2017: 'Penny for Pinellas' passes

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - Voters passed the Penny for Pinellas 1% sales tax Tuesday, renewing it an additional 10 years. 

The tax is used to pay for thousands of road, bridge, water quality, park, trail and infrastructure improvements throughout Pinellas County.

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The county was banking on the tax being renewed to pay for $2 billion in planned projects including upgrades to the sewer system, expanding the Pinellas Trail, replacing bridges and making roads safer for drivers and pedestrians. 

Pinellas County leaders are glad the Penny for Pinellas measure passed, otherwise they said they could have been forced to raise the millage tax rate. Earlier Tuesday, county leaders said a home valued at $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption that currently pays $537 in property taxes could end up paying $747 a year if Penny for Pinellas was not renewed. 

The tax has been in effect since 1990 and was extended twice in 1997 and in 2007. This next round will raise enough money to wrap pennies around the Earth 95 times. 

The sales tax will stay 7% on all purchases, other than groceries and medicine. The 1% Penny for Pinellas tax only impacts the first $5,000 of a purchase. 

The Penny is shared between the county and 24 cities, each of which sets its own priorities for the Penny.

This map allows you to see future Penny for Pinellas projects in your area.

Here are some of the projects the Penny for Pinellas tax could be used on now that it has been renewed:

Pinellas County Proposed Projects:

North County: (Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Oldsmar): East Lake Library expansion, Dunedin Causeway Bridge and Beckett Bridge replacement projects, flood control projects in Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs and other areas, road enhancements, including East Lake Road, Forest Lakes Boulevard, Anclote Road and others, Wall Springs Park expansion and many other community projects.          

Mid County: (Clearwater, Largo, Seminole, Belleair, Belleair Bluffs): Belcher Road/Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard intersection project, road enhancement projects, including Starkey Road, 102nd Avenue and 126th Avenue, Seminole youth sports facilities, stormwater/drainage enhancements across the community, county park facility infrastructure, Animal Services facility upgrades and many other projects planned by local cities.         

South County: (St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Gulfport, South Pasadena, Kenneth City): Lealman recreation center and flood prevention projects, Joe’s Creek water quality projects, San Martin Boulevard Bridge replacement, roadway enhancements to 22nd Avenue South, 62nd Avenue North and other roads, regional stormwater systems to prevent floodwater from entering the sewer system and other projects planned by local cities.

Gulf Beaches: Gulf Boulevard enhancement projects, Fort De Soto Visitor Center, Tierra Verde community center, drainage/stormwater projects, public safety equipment and numerous other projects identified by each city.    

Other countywide priorities include land for housing that’s affordable, sidewalk projects and public safety equipment and technology, including additional emergency shelter space and communications radio towers. The Penny would also support construction of new trails to extend inter-connectivity to and between the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, Duke Energy Trail, Tri-County Trail, and Coast-to-Coast Trail, including gaps in a planned 70-mile loop around the county.

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