Letter: McKinlay On Surtax Vote

Over the past few years. Palm Beach County has seen a dramatic decrease in its unemployment rate, its economic indicators rise, and businesses begin to flourish once again. But this positive growth has not been felt countywide. Throughout areas of my district, mostly the far western reaches of the county, unemployment continues to hover between 20 and 26 percent. Business recruitment is slow, and families are not feeling the economic recovery that many other people across Palm Beach County are experiencing. Roads desperately need repair, parks have broken equipment, housing inventory is critically low, and what is available is often in disrepair. I’ve spent countless hours walking the halls of our capitol in Tallahassee seeking state dollars to assist with infrastructure and educational needs in an effort to improve the chances of significant economic development. To date, we have been tremendously successful in our lobbying efforts. However, we have a long way to go.

When I ran for the Palm Beach County Commission, my priorities of improving infrastructure, providing a favorable environment for job growth and ensuring our children had safe neighborhoods and homes were the cornerstone of my campaign platform. I continue that pledge today, which is why I supported a surtax initiative that solely focused on improving our schools and our county and city infrastructure.

I recognize the importance of cultural facilities in our county and the opportunities they provide to expand the imaginations of our children. But I feel that these organizations are better off raising money in the private sector and not competing with the critical infrastructure needs of our schools and communities. When you represent an area where people are fighting to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table, it is hard to justify giving scarce tax dollars to museums. When you represent an area where a quarter of the population is underemployed, the priority must be about creating an environment that is favorable to job growth. Infrastructure is a critical component for that growth. And, when you know firsthand the needs of our public schools because you are a parent of three public school children, you recognize that we need to fix our schools before fixing privately owned cultural facilities.

It is my sincere hope that the Palm Beach County School District recognizes that the initiative approved by the Palm Beach County Commission provides an estimated additional $54 million to our public schools to address their needs. By partnering with us, it allows them to do additional capital projects, like purchase much-needed school buses. And it allows funding to stay in the hands of traditional public schools. In the end, the focus should be what is in the best interest of the 180,000 public school students in our county. And the best interest of those students and their families is working with the county to improve their neighborhood schools, the roads they drive on to get kids to school, the sidewalks they walk on, the parks they play in and the facilities that support them. To support any other plan is not in the best interest of our kids.

That is still, and should remain, one penny/one plan.

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, District 6


  1. Charter school should be private and not take the taxpayers money. Then we would lots of money for our public schools.

  2. Correction: the Cities would receive 20%, the County 30% and the School Board 50%.


  3. There are no specifics when it comes to what infrastructure will be improved in the western communities, nor what schools are going to be improved in the western communities.

    A ten year tax plan that indicates specifically what will be improved in Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, Loxahatchee, the Glades and Pahokee needs to be provided to the citizens.

    There has been a history of the western communities being ignored. We do not want to fund roads and schools in Boca, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach while those of us who live out West get passed over.

    Where specifically will the improvements in infrastructure take place in the western communities and what specifically are the plans for schools in the western communities?

    • The details are provided here: http://www.pbcgov.com/ib/reports.htm

      This is the County’s listing. The School District has to put out their own list of projects. The County may add a few more projects depending on how tomorrow’s meeting goes.

      The cities, per Florida Statute, receive their share of the revenue based on population and will receive, overall, 30% of the revenues. Each city will be responsible for putting together their list of projects.

      The unincorporated areas of the western communities account for a large portion of the proposed County projects.

      We meet with the School District tomorrow and should have our list finalized shortly thereafter, long before the November election in order for the public to see exactly where the money would be spent. Please feel free to call my office at 561-355-2206 if you have questions.

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