This morning I wrote and asked our Commission-appointed, unelected, St. Johns County Attorney, Mr. David Michael Migut, for a legal opinion about "void for vagueness" language in the controversial proposed "1-cent" (or is it "1%") tax increase, an increase of 15%.
Our Florida Supreme Court struck down in 2021 a Hillsborough County "penny sales tax" on different grounds. Result: some $542 million in illegally collected tax revenue is now in escrow.
Could St. Johns County's vague "1-cent" language be struck down if it were adopted?
Waiting on answers.
Waiting for documents.
Waiting for candor.
What do you reckon?
From: Ed Slavin <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Sent: Thu, Nov 3, 2022 10:22 am
Subject: "Void for Vagueness" Sales Tax Referendum Ballot Language: Urgent Request for St. Johns County Attorney Opinion
1. Looks like the "1 cent" language on ballot is the result of the literal language of the statute, which language may nevertheless be held void for vagueness.2. Statute text pertinent to this referendum language in bold):(2) LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFRASTRUCTURE SURTAX.—(a)1. The governing authority in each county may levy a discretionary sales surtax of 0.5 percent or 1 percent. The levy of the surtax shall be pursuant to ordinance enacted by a majority of the members of the county governing authority and approved by a majority of the electors of the county voting in a referendum on the surtax. If the governing bodies of the municipalities representing a majority of the county’s population adopt uniform resolutions establishing the rate of the surtax and calling for a referendum on the surtax, the levy of the surtax shall be placed on the ballot and shall take effect if approved by a majority of the electors of the county voting in the referendum on the surtax.2. If the surtax was levied pursuant to a referendum held before July 1, 1993, the surtax may not be levied beyond the time established in the ordinance, or, if the ordinance did not limit the period of the levy, the surtax may not be levied for more than 15 years. The levy of such surtax may be extended only by approval of a majority of the electors of the county voting in a referendum on the surtax.(b) A statement which includes a brief general description of the projects to be funded by the surtax and which conforms to the requirements of s. 101.161 shall be placed on the ballot by the governing authority of any county which enacts an ordinance calling for a referendum on the levy of the surtax or in which the governing bodies of the municipalities representing a majority of the county’s population adopt uniform resolutions calling for a referendum on the surtax. The following question shall be placed on the ballot:
FOR the -cent sales tax AGAINST the -cent sales tax.........3. "Void for vagueness" if "people of common intelligence have to guess at its meaning."https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/success-in-litigating-local-permit-denials-alternative-theories-of-obtaining-justice/4. Florida Supreme Court struck down a 1% Tampa sales tax in 2021 in Emerson v. Hillsborough County. Their County Commissioners voted for refunds, and that issue is in the courts. Some $562 million in illegally collected sales tax proceeds is in escrow!"The Supreme Court struck in its entirety an amendment to the Hillsborough County Charter adopted in an initiative election that approved a transportation surtax and directives for allocating the tax proceeds, holding that the spending directives were unconstitutional."https://www.floridasalestax.com/florida-tax-law-blog/2021/february/fl-supreme-court-1-hillsborough-surtax-invalid/