With Palmetto expecting to receive $15 million over the 15-year lifespan of the half-cent sales tax voters approved in the 2016 general election, officials are working on a priority list of where those funds will land.
High on the list is constructing a new police station.
The 1931 structure has seen better days, and the effort to replace and relocate it has been ongoing for years. With public safety being an allowed use for sales tax funding, this may be the department’s best chance, but it would take up an estimated $6 million of the city’s total expected sales tax revenue.
“Some of the more pressing things on this list is the police department, which is one thing everyone has agreed is a high priority,” said Jim Freeman, Palmetto city clerk, during a city commission workshop Tuesday. “Right now, we are trying to get the list together and determine the overall budget, and the second stage will be prioritizing those. But the police station is one of the more higher-priority projects.”
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Freeman said that at some point, the commission will need to make those final determinations and then decide on whether to do a “pay-as-you-go” process or borrow against the future tax receipts to move some of the higher-cost projects forward.
Estimated sales taxes designated for public safety total about $6.7 million, but transportation projects make up the bulk of the “wish list” at about $9 million. It includes an aggressive paving program, new sidewalks and some potential intersection improvement projects.
The majority of the remaining funding is geared toward improvements at several parks throughout the city, including $200,000 for restrooms at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, $200,000 for restroom renovation at Hidden Lake Park and potentially building two new pavilions at Sutton Park. Commissioner Tamara Cornwell added 17th Street Park to the list, noting, the park, “needs a little upgrade and a thorough review to assess the needs there.”
In all, the city is tentatively budgeting about $1.5 million into park improvements, including the replacement of playground equipment at some parks, in particular two parks where the equipment had to be removed due to its aging. Freeman said the list is a work in progress and there is more to do before funds will start being allocated toward any one project.
“We can always come back and modify or adjust it based on needs changed,” Freeman said. “This is looking over a 15-year period, but we are putting our best foot forward, and the likelihood is very high you’ll see this again. We’ve targeted the end of this calender year to have the first list adopted and then we’ll talk about timing.”