By Steve Plunkett

Going against the grain of other municipalities across Palm Beach County, Gulf Stream’s town commissioners do not support extending the county’s penny sales tax increase another 10 years.

“I object to it,” Mayor Scott Morgan said. “It was to sunset in ’26 and I think we should as a town show our support for sunsetting that tax.”

Voters approved paying the extra 1-cent tax starting in January 2017 with plans to end it either on Dec. 31, 2026, or after $2.7 billion was generated. The school district takes 50%, the county keeps 30% and the 39 municipalities split the rest.

Gulf Stream has accumulated $402,000 from its share, part of which will go toward its multimillion-dollar road and drainage project.

Town Manager Greg Dunham said ultimately the public would have to vote on extending the tax in a future referendum and presented a proposed resolution on Feb. 9 supporting having the county call for such a vote.

“By passing this, it would simply express our approval to continue that (tax),” Dunham said. “The board of the League of Cities and all the towns and cities that have managers or staff on that board support the extension of this penny sales tax.”

“Well of course you do,” Morgan said, as some commissioners chuckled. “Once the government has a tax, it tends to want to continue the tax and the revenue.”

Morgan said the town has a tradition of having the lowest property taxes on the barrier island and had raised the tax rate only once since he was elected to the commission in 2014.

“Sales taxes in particular are the most aggressive of taxes. They hurt the poor more than they hurt the wealthy,” he said. “I see no need for a continued increase in the sales tax, which if extended one more time will probably be permanent or at least risk being permanent.”

Commissioners jumped on the mayor’s anti-tax bandwagon.

“You rarely in your lifetime get a chance to do away with a tax, (it’s) usually going up,” Commissioner Michael Greene said.

“Yes, I’m also in favor of sunsetting in ’26. Let it go,” said Commissioner Rob Canfield.

Commissioner Joan Orthwein agreed with Morgan but said she did not know if they should “go out there and make a statement.”

“I think it would be refreshing for a governing body to support sunsetting a tax,” the mayor replied.

The commission voted 5-0 against supporting an extension of the penny sales tax.

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