Gainesville City Commission, Alachua County Commission discuss infrastructure surtax

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Gainesville City and Alachua County commissioners discussed a proposed infrastructure surtax at a joint meeting Monday afternoon.

The infrastructure surtax would go into effect in 2025, and the money would be distributed among the county and its municipalities to be used for a number of projects including public safety, transportation and housing.

“If we are serious as a city and a county, as a community about doing something about affordable housing, this is how you get it done," said Gainesville City Commissioner Harvey Ward. "If we really honestly want to replace a minimum of three fire stations in the city of Gainesville in a relatively short period of time, which we need to do, this is the way communities get that done.”

“I know the question’s going to come up, ‘Well, why another surtax?’ And I don’t think this story gets told enough, so I’m just going to say it, and I’m going to continue saying it, is that 60% of the property in Gainesville is off the tax rolls, 60%. That means we have a lot less revenue than we’re working with,” said Gainesville City Commissioner Gail Johnson.

Some citizens spoke up during the public comment period.

One said another tax is simply too much, while others urged commissioners to focus on the issues that their constituents care about most.

"I would urge you to look back at what the community is telling you is important and making sure that things like climate change, affordable housing, and local food and food security and food access are in this infrastructure tax," said one woman.

A motion was passed to revisit this topic in February with a finalized list of projects.

Among the other topics discussed at this joint meeting were the Fairgrounds redevelopment and a tourist development tax.