Friends of the Library

SUN PHOTO BY BRIANNA KWASNIK

Friends of the Punta Gorda Library volunteers identify themselves by raising their hands recently during the ribbon cutting for the new Punta Gorda Charlotte Library, which involved funding from the penny sales tax.

By BETSY CALVERT

Staff Writer

PORT CHARLOTTE — Charlotte County is inviting local organizations and government agencies to submit capital improvement proposals for funding with a penny sales tax surcharge.

County officials have already identified a long list of their own projects and have appointed a focus group force of 21 citizens to review that list.

In 2020, will you vote to continue the penny sales tax surcharge to fund numerous projects?

You voted:

Which of these proposed projects so far would you most support?

You voted:

After reviewing the county proposed projects, the citizen group will review outside proposals. Capital projects are considered those with a life expectancy of five years or greater. It can be new construction, renovations or additions and must be completed between 2021 and 2027.

Individuals are not included in the proposal invite, which is restricted to official nonprofit agencies and government agencies outside of the county.

That would include the local school district, the Punta Gorda Airport Authority or the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Proposals will be accepted through Oct. 31.

Qualified organizations must complete a project information sheet as well as a capital improvements program sheet, which are found on the county website CharlotteCountyFL.gov. The applications must include a photograph, if appropriate, and a map showing the location of the project. Forms are available by clicking the “Community Sales Tax Project” banner at the top of the page or the link on the 1% Local Option Sales Tax web page.

Florida’s sales tax surcharge is a local government option which requires a citizen ballot vote.

Charlotte County voters have approved a 1 cent surcharge since 1994. The next vote will be in November 2020.

The current local option tax was extended for six years in November 2014 and is set to expire in December 2020.

The County expects the tax will generate $120,000,000 for county projects over the span of six years. The projects selected for inclusion in the 1% local option sales tax are submitted to the Board of County Commissioners and vetted through a citizen focus group.

“At the end of this, we want to have a great slate of projects that will not only benefit the county, but also, pass at the ballot,” Assistant County Administrator Emily Lewis said recently.

Gary Butler, executive director of the not-for-profit Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda said his organization will not apply as it just moved to a new facility by Fishermen’s Village.

He had some advice, though, for potential projects.

“I always tend to lean toward projects that attract the most people both inside and outside the county,” he said. “I think it’s important that whatever is funded, it doesn’t become a burden, that it has a good business plan so that once it’s in place it should demonstrate its ability to sustain itself.”

Email: betsy.calvert@yoursun.com

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