The Penny for Pinellas tax is a one percent sales tax surcharge on taxable commodities sold in Pinellas County. It was first approved by voters in 1989 and went into effect in February 1990. A third extension of the Penny for Pinellas tax was passed by voters in March 2007. This extension is for another ten-year period, from February 1, 2010 to January 31, 2020. It is estimated that $62 million will be received from the Penny for Pinellas tax for leisure facilities over this ten-year period.
Pinellas County voters will be asked to consider extending the Penny for Pinellas tax when they go to the polls on November 7, 2017. Open house meetings have been scheduled to provide information into the proposed Penny:
- Monday, March 20, 2017, Historic Gulfport Casino, 5500 Shore Blvd. S., Gulfport, FL 33703
- Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Pinellas County Extension, 12320 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL 33774
- Neighborhood and Citywide Infrastructure
- Public Safety
- Recreation & Culture
- City Facility Improvements
Neighborhood And Citywide Infrastructure
- Resurfacing of 2,391 lane miles of streets under City control
- Reconstruction of 4 miles of City streets
- Addition of 45 miles of sidewalk
- Replacement of 67 miles of sidewalk, including 6,384 handicapped access ramps
- Reconstruction of 32 bridges and improvements to extend the life of 66 of the City’s 80 bridges
- Addition of 140 street and pedestrian lighting fixtures
- Construction of 11 major drainage projects aimed at the elimination of house flooding, including 30th Ave. to Jungle Lake
- Construction of 9 drainage projects designed to decrease street flooding, including 44th St. from 11th-13th Aves. S.
- Restoration of Lake Maggiore through dredging and treatment of stormwater runoff
- Funded critical repairs or replacement of 30,000 linear feet of seawall, including Coffee Pot Bayou through Vinoy and Straub Parks
- Construction of one new fire station (Gateway)
- Replacement of 4 fire stations and renovation of 6 other stations and fire headquarters
- Purchase and replacement of 198 police cruisers
- Replacement of 21 major pieces of firefighting equipment
Recreation & Culture
- Reconstruction of 5 recreation centers and improvement of 10 others
- Construction of 4 new pools and improvement of 6 others
- Rebuilding of 3 branch libraries and major renovations/expansions to 4 others
- Addition of 9 major youth athletic complexes and improvements to 8 others
- Major improvements to 16 parks
- Creation of 16 accessible playgrounds
- Replacement of playground equipment in 47 locations
- Regular resurfacing of the City’s tennis and basketball courts and refinishing of Gymnasium floors
- Major park renovations at Dell Holmes Park, Maximo Park, Booker Creek Park, Childs Park, Lake Maggiore Nature Preserve, Vinoy Park, Bartlett Park, Gladden Park, Northeast Exchange Coffee Pot Park, Crisp Park, Walter Fuller Park, Crescent Lake Park, Jungle Prada Park, Kiwanis Park, Grandview Park and Coquina Key Park
City Facility Improvements
- Historic renovation of the City Hall Annex
- Construction of a new consolidated warehouse and records storage facility
- Access improvements under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Improvements to the City’s Fleet Maintenance Complex
- Replacement of roofs and air handling systems in City buildings.
What You Should Know About The Penny
1. The City of St. Petersburg receives over $20 million of the $136 million the sales surtax generates in Pinellas County annually.
2. The Penny is paid by everyone who purchases non-tax-exempt items within Pinellas County.
3. Approximately 30% of the Penny is paid by people visiting Pinellas County, who use our facilities, but may not pay other types of taxes.
4. 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.
5. The Penny was first authorized by Pinellas County voters by referendum in November 1989, and again in March, 1997.
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 to ensure sound capital improvement planning for the upcoming years.
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 first and second ten-year 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, to improve their safety, increase their service capacities, and reduce costs through fire sprinkling and energy efficient lighting.
11. The Penny has enabled the City to improve its ability to routinely extend the life of its infrastructure and replace damaged infrastructure, like sidewalks.
11. The Penny has been paired with other funding sources, like the stormwater fee, to make major drainage improvements, and has been used to leverage many 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, like the Penny, capital improvements would compete with operations to a greater extent, probably slowing the amount of improvements made.
Also, more of the burden would be borne by local residents, since other local funding sources may not be contributed to as extensively by those visiting and paying sales tax through their purchases.