Vote Aug. 18

Economic Development Incentive Ad Valorem Tax Exemption Referendum Issue

On August 18, 2020, Martin County voters will be asked to consider a local ballot referendum item associated with the Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption program first approved by voters in 2010.

Ballot Language – (Approved May 5, 2020 by Resolution 20.56)

Title: Economic Development Incentive Ad Valorem Tax Exemption for New Businesses and Expansion of Existing Businesses

These exemptions would provide economic incentives assisting new or expanding businesses that will have a positive economic impact on Martin County’s economy. Exemptions don’t apply to school or city taxes.

Shall the Martin County Board of County Commissioners be authorized to grant, pursuant to s. 3, Art. VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs in Martin County?

_____________Yes for authority to grant exemptions
_____________No against authority to grant exemptions   

The program is designed to encourage job growth and additional business investment in Martin County, and if reauthorized by voters, would allow the Board of County Commissioners to grant property tax exemptions for expanding or new businesses that are creating good jobs and purchasing new equipment or making capital improvements as per Florida Statute 196.1995.

Florida counties and cities – including Indian River, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie counties and the cities of Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce – use this exemption as an economic development tool to encourage new job creation from local companies, the relocation of new eligible businesses such as manufacturers and data centers while accelerating local equipment purchases and capital investments from targeted industry firms.

General Overview

What is Does:

  • Temporarily reduces some county taxes (on the new taxable value only) for eligible existing and new businesses that expand facilities, purchase equipment, and create 10 or more jobs.
  • Encourages business investment by reducing initial start-up costs.
  • Creates good jobs in manufacturing, processing, fabricating, data centers and other target industry businesses.
  • Undergoes review by county staff, analysis by the Property Appraiser and requires a vote by the Board of County Commissioners before it’s provided.  The Business Development Board of Martin County assists any applicant through the process.
  • Upholds accountability and transparency by requiring annual reporting from recipient business showing they’ve maintained the jobs and expansion related to the exemption.

What it Does NOT Do:

  • Give a cash payment.
  • Grant any automatic benefit.
  • Decrease the existing tax base.
  • Affect taxes for city, towns, school district or any other taxing authorities.

Key Qualifying Criteria:

  • New building construction.
  • New equipment built or purchased.
  • New jobs created.
  • Must be a manufacturer, processor, fabricator, data center, qualified target industry business (generally defined as businesses able to locate in other states and serve multi-state and/or international markets are targeted), headquarters office-division, business with qualifying sales factor (> than 50% of products and services are sold outside the region.  Retailers are not eligible.

Brief history:

  • Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption was approved by the voters in 2010.
  • According to Florida Statutes, the tool must be reauthorized by voters every 10 years.
  • Since 2010, only one application was received, and it was not fully considered because it did not meet minimum eligibility criteria as a qualifying business.
  • The tool is currently being used by other Florida cities and counties to expand and attract manufacturing, corporate offices and warehousing and distribution centers with new jobs.

Regional-Florida Examples of How Tax Exemption Has Been Used by Others:

City Electric Supply Co.
St. Lucie County
$32 million capital investment
411,000 square foot manufacturing facility
50 jobs
$365,180 tax exemption for first five years
Carrier Corporation
Palm Beach County
$115 million capital investment
250,000 square foot office facility
380 jobs
$3 million tax exemption
Carvana
Polk County
$48.5 million capital investment
250,000 square foot distribution facility
100 jobs
$2.1 million tax exemption

If Voters Reauthorize the Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption, Where-How Might It Be Used in Martin County?

Local or new businesses seeking to build new offices, plants or facilities in Martin County have many more choices than they did and since 2010.  Today, businesses and companies can break new ground at several key areas including (but limited to):

  • AgTEC:  1,700 acres ready for bio-tech firms, energy-related companies and research and development institutions
  • Seven J’s Industrial Park:  1,300-acre industrial park just east of I-95
  • Martin Enterprise Park (Pineland Prairie):  300 acres of ready to go land for research and development, light industrial and office uses
  • Florida Commerce Park:  100 acres of permit-ready industrial land next to FPL’s clean, sustainable power plan
  • Indiantown Marine Center:  33 acres ready for large boat builders (> than 160’)
  • Martin County Community Redevelopment Areas

Other Key Points to Remember . . . Martin County Economic Development Goals

Martin County is seeking to strengthen and diversify its economy along with rebuilding job losses experienced since the COVID-19 global pandemic.  Martin County year-over-year job losses (May 2020) now total -9,584 jobs with unemployment of 11.4% and 7,999 Martin Countians out of work.  

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