A new aquatic center remains a major focus for Wellington’s share of the countywide sales surtax, a revenue stream that is on pace to reach its limit ahead of schedule, Deputy Village Manager Tanya Quickel told the village’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Board on Monday, Jan. 8.
Wellington’s cut of the Palm Beach County sales surtax ends Dec. 31, 2026, or upon receiving about $38.9 million in collections, whichever comes first, Quickel said.
The village’s share has already reached $34.2 million on the surtax started in 2017, so Quickel said she expects the cap to be reached early in 2025. The surtax was projected to last 10 years.
“You indicated we’re likely to reach the [maximum] sooner than expected?” Board Member Stephen A. Levin asked.
Yes, Quickel said. That’s because business activity has recovered after the uncertainty of the pandemic and other factors. “With visitors and tourism, it has been great,” Quickel said.
There has been discussion of letting county voters decide if they wish to continue the surtax, which comes on top of a 6 percent state sales tax, she said. That’s up to the Palm Beach County Commission to provide that option on the ballot if it so chooses, she said. Revenues are split among the county, municipalities, and the School District of Palm Beach County.
Board members asked when that likely would go on the ballot, if it happens.
Quickel said she expected it would be the fall of 2025, closer to when the current surtax expires.
A memorandum prepared by Quickel’s office offered details on where the surtax money has gone and what is projected in 2024.
At the top of the list: the new aquatic center.
Last year, the Wellington Village Council approved the relocation and expansion of the aquatic center to a site at the back of Wellington’s Village Park.
The village awarded a contract to Ohlson Lavoie Corp. for architectural and engineering expenses in the amount of $1.9 million, of which $1.3 million has been spent so far.
The remaining budget from the surtax for the aquatic center is about $8.9 million, leading all remaining projects.
Another recipient has been South Shore Community Park. In 2023, the council approved site preparation and demolition of a storage building to construct a new athletic facility there. The current budget is $1.9 million.
Other projects have already seen a lot of work done. Phase II at Town Center, near the village offices, involved reconstruction and expansion of the amphitheater and Scott’s Place and was completed in May 2023.
Another $300,000 has been set aside for public safety, with attention to needs assessment and substation improvements.
Most of the money already spent, about $27.3 million, has gone to construction on local projects.
In other action, the board voted to retain Samuel Falzone as chair with Levin as vice chair.