F&N Article 5: Outreach and Support

Posted on January 7, 2024

In our first four articles we discussed how Martin County is such a special place in part, because of how much of our land is still natural and undeveloped. We made the case for why acquiring and preserving more land can protect our quality of life and community character. We reviewed the Countys history of acquiring land and how it’s been very successful at receiving matching State and Federal funds. In our third article, we talked about the four areas targeted for purchase and how they can protect our water quality.


The devil is in the details, so in our last article, we dove into the “guardrails” we’re including in the proposed sales tax initiative to make it clear how funds would be used to give taxpayers confidence the money raised will be spent in the way it was intended. We encourage you to click on any or all of the links above to get caught up on what we’ve been working on.


This article explains our education and outreach efforts for the last year and the critical feedback we received that helped us refine the details of the initiative.


Citizens are Passionate and Deeply Involved in Martin County


Many of us are familiar with our county’s unofficial tagline, “Martin County: It’s Different Here.” Part of that difference is the diversity of interest groups, as well as their passion and advocacy. Last year, we met with dozens of groups and hundreds of people to seek their feedback and also conducted wider polling to collect data on voter preferences. We’ve made presentations to the leadership and membership of environmental groups including Florida Oceanographic, Indian Riverkeeper, Friends of the Everglades, VoteWater and the Rivers Coalition. They are fully supportive of our efforts, as this initiative dovetails perfectly with their roles in protecting our natural environment and water quality.  

We’ve also been encouraged by the support we received during presentation to the members of the Stuart/Martin County and Palm City Chambers of Commerce.  They have remarked on the importance of getting this sales tax initiative on the ballot in November 2024 and letting the voters decide.


There is consensus that one of the key advantages of a half-cent sales tax referendum is that an estimated 37.5% of the funds raised will be paid by tourists.


Much of the constructive criticism we received focused on the details of the wording of the referendum as well as the lengthier ordinance language which will ensure voters are comfortable and confident that the money raised will be used in the way it was promised.  Here are some important elements of the initiative: 


Lands will only be purchased from willing sellers.


Land to be purchased will be limited to four designated areas:

·        Blueways Beach areas

·        Pal-Mar

·        Indian River Lagoon Region

·        Loxahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers


The ability to purchase Conservation Easements will be included.

·        This allows for the purchase and removal of development rights off of agricultural lands while still allowing farming to continue.

·        No more than 5% of the annual revenue generated through the sales tax can be used to purchase conservation easements.


The following categories will be excluded from being taxed: groceries, pharmaceutical supplies and school supplies.  Only the first $5,000 of any purchase will be subject to the sales tax.


An independent Citizens Oversight Committee will be established and will include diverse volunteers from business, conservation, taxpayers, realtors, hospitality and other sectors.


An Annual Audit will be conducted of all monies obtained through the sales tax and how they are being spent.


Martin County Commissioners will hopefully be voting on this sales tax initiative within the next month or so.  We hope you will join our devoted group of volunteers who are focused on preserving what sets Martin County apart from areas to the north and south of us. 


Send us an email and let us know what you think. And if youd like to schedule a presentation to your group, contact us at martincoutnyforever@gmail.com.  


For more info visit www.martincountyforever.com, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/martincountyforever or on Instagram at instagram.com/martincountyforever


Thank you!


Jim Snedeker and Merritt Matheson


Snedeker & Matheson's opinions are their own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.


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