Penny for Pinellas
The Penny for Pinellas tax is a one percent sales tax paid by everyone who spends money in the county. It was first approved by voters in 1989 and went into effect in February 1990. Two extensions of the Penny for Pinellas have been approved; March 1997 and March 2007. The most recent extension covers another ten-year period, from February 1, 2010 to January 31, 2020.
Pinellas County voters will be asked to consider extending the Penny for Pinellas tax when they go to the polls on November 7, 2017.
The city uses the Penny for Pinellas resources to fund capital improvements to the city’s infrastructure including streets and roads, bridges, stormwater system upgrades, parks and recreation centers and public facilities.
The city has also leveraged Penny for Pinellas resources to secure additional grant funding to maximize the impact of the Penny. For example, grants from the South West Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) have been combined with matching funds from Penny resources to complete additional stormwater management projects.
Penny for Pinellas presentation to City Council Committee of the Whole, March 23, 2017
The city makes investments of Penny for Pinellas resources in four categories, more fully described below:
- Resurfacing of 673 lane miles of city streets (2010-2016) and 2,391 lane miles during all of the Penny rounds
- Constructed 15 major Stormwater drainage projects (using both Penny and SWFWMD grants)
- Reconstructed 10 bridges and extended the service life of 76 bridges
- Reconstruction of seawalls, such as 30,000 linear feet of seawall, along Coffee Pot Bayou through Vinoy and Straub Parks
- Reconstruction of sidewalks – average of 400 sidewalk segments annually
- Traffic Calming – installed 207 traffic calming features (2010-2016) and 1,568 (all rounds of the Penny)
- Police Headquarters Facility is under construction with an estimated completion date of December 2018/January 2019)
- Acquired 79 Police cruisers (2010-2017)
- A new Fire Station #7 at Fossil Park will soon be under construction with an estimated completion in late summer 2018
- Major renovations to Fire Station 11 (Lakewood Fire Station)
- Acquired eight (8) new fire engines, two (2) ladder trucks, one (1) squad support vehicle
Recreation & Culture
- Reconstruction of eight (8) recreation centers including Campbell Park, Lake Vista, Gladden Park, and Childs Park
- Major renovations to Parks including Lake Maggiore/Boyd Hill, Campbell Park, Fossil Park and Walter Fuller
- Renovation and improvements to eight (8) boat launch facilities including Bay Vista, Crisp Park, Coffee Pot, Demens Landing, Maximo, Grand Vies, Lake Maggiore, and Sunlit Cove
- Major improvements to Pools including Jennie Hall, Childs Park, Fossil Park, Shore Acres, Lake Vista and Walter Fuller
- Replacement of playground equipment at Walter Fuller, Lake Vista, Crisp Park, Crescent Lake, and Westgate Elementary
- Public Library improvements
- Regular resurfacing of the City’s tennis and basketball courts and refinishing of Gymnasium floors
City Facility Improvements
- Funded renovations to Jamestown, the city’s affordable housing complex
- Improvements to the Dwight H. Jones Neighborhood Center
- Replacement of roofs and HVAC systems in City facilities
What You Should Know About The Penny
1. The City of St. Petersburg receives approximately $25 million annually which is used to fund capital investments without using property taxes.
2. The Penny is paid by everyone who purchases non-tax-exempt items within Pinellas County. Approximately 30% of the Penny is paid by people visiting Pinellas County, who use our facilities, but may not pay other types of taxes.
3. The Penny is allowed by state law, but can only be used for capital improvements and public safety equipment. It cannot be used to pay for operating expenses, like salaries, utilities and expendable supplies.
4. The Penny was first authorized by Pinellas County voters by referendum in November 1989, and reauthorized in March, 1997, and March 2007.
6. Unless Pinellas County voters agree to re-authorize the Penny for another ten-year period, it will expire on January 31, 2020.
7. Pinellas County voters are being asked to make this decision to re-authorize in 2017.
8. Before the Penny for Pinellas, St. Petersburg used revenue bonds, i.e., debt financing, for all major improvements, and transferred approximately $1 million annually from the city's General Fund for capital improvements.
9. The three rounds of the Penny programs enabled the city to replace, improve and extend the life of city facilities on a pay-as-you-go basis, thus avoiding the interest costs of borrowing.
10. The Penny has allowed the city to replace or upgrade many older facilities.
11. The Penny has enabled the city to replace damaged infrastructure, like sidewalks.
11. The Penny has been paired with other funding sources, like the stormwater fee, to make drainage improvements and has been used to leverage grants from regional, state and federal sources to stretch local dollars further.
What If The Penny Is Not Re-Authorized By Pinellas County Voters?
All the cities in Pinellas County and the Board of County Commissioners would need to revert to other existing funding sources for major capital improvements. These would include General Funds and borrowings that were used before the Penny existed. Without a dedicated funding source for capital improvement projects, like the Penny, those projects would go unfunded or would compete for funding with operations or other sources.
Because the Penny is a sales tax, its elimination would also cut off a stream of revenue from tourists and other visitors to Pinellas County who do not own any local property or pay any local property taxes.