Wild Spaces Public Places, Infrastructure Ballot Initiative

Extension of the Wild Spaces & Public Places program will be on the Alachua County ballot Nov. 8, 2022 and is being combined with a new infrastructure surtax

On Nov. 8, Alachua County will vote on the extension of the Wild Spaces & Public Places sales surtax. The upcoming ballot initiative allows a 1% (one penny) sales tax to be levied for ten years through 2032.  50% of the surtax revenue will be dedicated to Wild Spaces & Public Places projects and 50% of the surtax will be dedicated to roads, fire stations (and other public facilities) and affordable housing.

About the current Wild Spaces & Public Places program (Jan. 1, 2017-Dec. 31, 2024)

Wild Spaces & Public Places half-cent sales tax is being used to acquire and improve environmentally sensitive lands and to create, improve and maintain parks and recreational facilities throughout Alachua County.

The eight-year sales tax was approved by Alachua County voters in 2016 and is being collected from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2024.

Voters will be asked on November 8, 2022 whether they would like to extend the Wild Spaces & Public Places half-cent sales tax along with a half-cent sales tax dedicated to infrastructure through 2032. 

Making a Local Impact

  • The Wild Spaces & Public Places program is proud to have kept over 75% of the City of Gainesville’s WSPP expenditures local.
  • Over 50% of the vendors hired were small businesses.

Highlighted City of Gainesville projects worked on or completed since 2018

To mention just a few!

  • New neighborhood parks: Unity Park and Reserve Park
  • Clarence R. Kelly Community Center
  • Northside Park improvements
  • Nature Center at Hogtown Creek Headwaters
  • Oakview Park improvements
  • Boardwalk replacements: Duval Park and Loblolly Woods Nature Park
  • Alachua County Public Schools partnership projects
  • The Hippodrome Theatre refresh

Distribution of Wild Spaces & Public Places Sales Tax Dollars

The State of Florida disburses the Wild Spaces & Public Places sales tax revenue to Alachua County and the nine incorporated municipalities within the county based on population.

  • The City of Gainesville receives 35.78% of the sales tax collected. The City of Gainesville is focusing its efforts on improvements and renovations to existing parks and facilities with a few signature projects.
  • Alachua County receives 57.17% of the sales tax collected. Of the Alachua County revenue, 90% of the revenue goes toward conservation lands and 10% goes toward active parks.
  • The remaining 7.05% of the sales tax collected is distributed amongst the eight smaller municipalities within the county.

Who makes up the Citizen’s Oversight Board?

County Commission Appointees:

  • BJ Bukata
  • Melissa Hill
  • Dorothy Smiljanich (alternate)

Gainesville City Commission Appointees:

  • Kaitlyn Dickinson
  • David Ruiz – chair
  • Benjamin Fox (alternate)

Other Incorporated Cities (Not in Gainesville):

  • Thomas Hewlett – vice chair
  • Megan Forbes (alternate)

Who conducts the independent audit?

The Citizen’s Oversight Board audits the fund annually. They also have the authority to order an independent audit if, in their opinion, funds were misappropriated. Additionally, the City of Gainesville’s external auditor (independent) audits the fund on an annual basis.

What would be the City of Gainesville’s share of the infrastructure surtax, if approved by voters?

The City of Gainesville is projected to receive $17.4 million dollars annually:

  • $8.7 million dollars annually for Wild Spaces, Public Places;
  • $8.7 million dollars annually for infrastructure projects (road, fire stations, etc.);
  • $3.0 million dollars over the 10 year life of the project for joint Wild Spaces, Public Places projects with Alachua County;
  • $3.0 million dollars over the 10 year life of the project for joint infrastructure projects with Alachua County

When is the referendum?

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022

Which types of projects would be eligible for funding by the surtax?

  1. Parks and recreation projects such as existing Wild Spaces, Public Places Program;
  2. Facility infrastructure programs such as the City of Gainesville’s Fire Department Master Plan Implementation and maintenance of critical infrastructure;
  3. Roadway repairs and paving and safety programs:
    • City’s Pavement Management Program;
    • Vision Zero roadway safety program.

Which types of projects would not be eligible?

  • Construction of new roads
  • Transit projects