Florida Statute 212.055(1)(d) authorizes Charter Counties to levy a transportation surtax for certain eligible purposes after the electorate of the Charter County votes to impose the sales surtax. Not all counties are eligible to place transportation surtaxes on their ballots; only Charter Counties and regional transportation systems are. Municipalities and federally-established metropolitan planning organizations are ineligible and may only receive surtax funds for eligible transportation purposes through an interlocal agreement with a Charter County.
The ballot language voted on by Broward residents said the following: “Shall countywide transportation improvements to reduce traffic congestion, improve roads and bridges, enhance traffic signal synchronization, develop safe sidewalks and bicycle pathways, expand and operate bus and special needs transportation, implement rail along approved corridors, and implement emerging transportation technologies, be funded by levying a thirty year, one percent sales surtax, paid by residents and visitors, with the proceeds held in a newly-created trust fund and all expenditures overseen by an independent oversight board?1” The surtax’s stated purpose was a way to enhance and improve existing mobility and transportation services — from roads, bridges, traffic signals and school zones to community shuttles, paratransit and fixed route transit services. New projects are also a significant element of the plan, with nearly 700 county and municipal projects approved since April 2019 (including the Five-Year Plan covering FYs2021-2025). A full transit systemwide study is underway, looking at existing service, while also evaluating premium transit investments like express bus service and rail.
A key component of independence is separation of oversight from the elected officials who adopt the County’s budget. The program’s expenditures are being overseen by an Independent Oversight Board (Oversight Board) as promised to voters. The County’s surtax ordinance (Article V, Section 31½ - 75) established an Appointing Authority with representatives from seven community entities, to select the members of the Oversight Board. After an open call for qualified volunteers in eight professional categories, a publicly noticed (“sunshined”) meeting occurred to evaluate and select oversight board members. Several meetings of the Appointing Authority were necessary to fill all nine positions (a candidate withdrew from consideration, and two vacancies occurred during this reporting period).
Surtax funding supports numerous roadway, safety, and resiliency-related projects in the County’s Public Works Department, but presently staff managing/delivering surtax funded projects are funded with gas taxes. While we recognize that gas taxes will continue to decline and positions may be funded by the surtax in the future, the County has pledged to continue using gas taxes to maintain existing roadway facilities and those new surtax-funded road and safety projects for as long as gas tax revenue is available.
Broward County Transit Department receives surtax funding to supplement its capital and operating budget, annually. Within the original financial plan, the County maintained an investment of general funds in the amount of $27M for fixed route transit. Operations and maintenance expenses are specifically identified as eligible in the statute (212.055, F.S.) and were approximately 40% of the total expected costs associated with the 30-year plan.
The Mobility Advancement Program Administration (MAP Admin) was created as the entity tasked with operationalizing the Oversight Board’s responsibilities (per ordinance and its own established by-laws). Initially a staff of three, MAP Admin has grown to seven individuals who provide support services and/or lead on cross-functional collaborations with other aspects of the program: finance, communications, program and performance analytics, project management, and municipal surtax project liaisons. In this reporting period, surtax dollars also fund a three-person planning and innovations team, as well as dedicated auditor, attorney, paralegal and two local preference goal specialists.