A new survey shows fewer than half Pinellas voters would cast a ballot for renewing the Penny for Pinellas if the referendum were held today.
The poll, by St. Pete Polls, shows 48 percent of registered voters in Pinellas County would vote to support another Penny. Another 28 percent would not support it, and 23 percent are unsure. Although the poll shows the Penny failing to pass if the election were today, the vote is close and, with a 2.2 percent margin of error, the referendum could squeak by.
The poll of 2,005 Pinellas County, Florida registered voters was conducted Monday using registered voter lists supplied by the state of Florida as of Dec. 6. The voter sample included randomly contacted registered voters within the boundaries of Pinellas County, using an automated phone call polling system.
Penny for Pinellas is a one-cent sales tax paid by anyone spending money within the county. The Penny, first passed in 1990, is good for 10 years, then voters must pass it again for it to continue. Voters will be asked in November to renew it for a fourth time – from 2020 through 2030.
Proceeds from the Penny are divided among Pinellas County and its 24 municipalities. Its use is generally restricted to capital, or so-called “brick and mortar,” projects.
Pinellas County says that, since its inception, the tax has been used to build 16 major roads with added lanes, and rebuilt bridges; more than 20 fire and emergency facilities built or renovated; more than 150 projects to enhance stormwater systems and flood control. Also, there was protection of natural resources with hundreds of acres of land preserved, as well as upgrades to 21 parks and more than 50 new miles of multiuse trails.
But voters don’t appear to be wholeheartedly convinced, according to the survey results. The only two groups with more than half in favor were Democratic party voters and non-Hispanic white voters.
Of the 768 Democrats polled, 50.7 percent were in support compared with 47.6 percent of the 785 Republicans and 46.2 percent of the 452 independent voters who were polled.
When it came to a breakdown of race, just under 51 percent of the 1,698 non-Hispanic white voters surveyed were supporting the Penny renewal. Of the 203 non-Hispanic black voters polled, only 39 percent favored it; of the 27 Asian or Pacific Islanders surveyed, only 37 percent supported renewal; of the 37 Hispanic voters polled, only 24 said they support it; and of the 40 other/unknown race, only 38 percent support renewal.