Last chance for Orange County to weigh in on penny sales tax

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — This is the last chance for Orange County residents to vote on Mayor Jerry Demings’ proposed sales tax increase, before commissioners decide whether to add it or not. in the November ballot.


What do you want to know

  • Orange County residents have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to respond to an online poll about their experiences with public transit and whether they support a proposed sales tax increase.
  • If passed, the measure would increase Orange County’s sales tax to 7.5%, providing nearly $600 million annually for transportation projects, including line expansions and bus stops. public transport.
  • As currently reported, Mayor Jerry Demings’ proposal would allow tourists and visitors to fund 51% of the initiative’s planned $600 million budget for transportation infrastructure.

County residents have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to complete an online survey about their experiences with public transit and whether they support a proposed sales tax increase. County commissioners will then decide on Tuesday whether to put the sales tax referendum on the November ballot for residents to vote.

If passed, the measure would increase Orange County’s sales tax to 7.5%, providing nearly $600 million annually for transportation projects, including line expansions and bus stops. public transport. The tax would apply to the first $5,000 of sales, but essential groceries, prescription drugs and utilities would be exempt, according to the county’s website.

The pending decision from the commissioners follows a series of informational open houses organized by the commissioners in recent weeks, allowing residents to learn more about the impact the penny tax proposal could have on them. . For Naqiy Mcmullen, expanding Orlando’s transit systems only makes sense if done in conjunction with zoning, to allow for more accessible housing options near bus and subway lines light.

“We need to provide frequent bus service, but we also need to combine that with the right zoning to build apartments next to the buses, so they get enough ridership to maintain high service,” Mcmullen told Spectrum. News 13 in February.

Mcmullen runs Central Floridians For Public Transit and like many members of the group he relies heavily on public transport, often spending a lot of time traveling from point A to point B. More bus and light rail stops would mean less travel time for passengers. – but at what cost ?

Local property developer Peter Duke doesn’t think residents should bear the burden of a penny tax hike. He said he would like the county to consider other options for funding transportation improvements, such as a tax on rental cars or a hotel surcharge that tourists would pay.

“There could be other taxes that are perhaps more of a burden on tourists visiting the region. And maybe we could get away with just assuming a half percent sales tax increase,” Duke suggested.

“Maybe we could get away with just taking a half percent tax increase,” he suggested.

As currently described, Demings’ proposal would allow tourists and visitors to fund 51% of the initiative’s planned $600 million budget for transportation infrastructure. The funding would address a range of challenges facing Orlando’s public transit: exponential population growth, pedestrian and cyclist safety, air quality, and long wait times, to name a few- one.

One way or another, Mcmullen said, these are all challenges Orlando must overcome to be a great city where people want to live.

“If we want to be economically competitive with other cities across the country and across the country, we need to invest in public transit for everyone,” Mcmullen said.

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