LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County transportation is suggesting two ways to raise a lot of money for roads projects in the future. One is a voter-approved sales tax hike of 1 percent, from 6 to 7 percent. The other is using property tax money.
The transportation department will brief commissioners on Monday about the needs in road planning and building. DOT says it needs at least $30 million for improvements to Estero Blvd. on Fort Myers Beach. The upgrades are supposed to help ease the very bad traffic jams on that road.
The county also needs about $10 million for Alico Road widening near FGCU; and $10 million for widening Homestead Road in Lehigh Acres.
The 1 percent hike in sales tax would raise nearly $100 million a year.
One taxpayer says no way.
"People are just coming out of the recession and starting to spend a little. To hit them with a tax hike now, I don't think that is going to be good," says Skip Mufalli, a business owner in Lee.
Another says, good roads are worth the cash.
Lynn Routhier tells WINK, "Good roads are vital to safety and to bringing people to the area to invest and visit. I say, it's something I would vote for, if I am assured the money goes to the roads and improvements."
Commissioner Frank Mann says, "I do not see a hike in the sales tax. Not going to be approved. We will have to find other ways and we will. Road funding is always an anxious area in a high-growth county like Lee. We will live through it, but nobody is in favor of a hike in taxes or a new fee of any sort."
If the sales tax hike does not fly, planners are suggesting dedicating a portion of taxes just to roads- a $10 million portion per year- but that would be a hard sell, because Lee already is $30 million short in its budget, heading to the next fiscal year.