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Update: Commission has until April 23 to decide if transportation tax will go on Orange County ballot

Mayor Jerry Demings during an Orange County Commissioners meeting
Orange County via YouTube
After a discussion at Tuesday's Orange County Commission meeting, staff will gather more information about a possible sales tax for transporation.

Updated 4:20p.m. Tuesday.

Mayor Jerry Demings is asking the Orange County Commission to consider putting a sales tax for transportation needs before local voters for a second time this November.

After a discussion at Tuesday's commission meeting, staff will gather more information.

Commissioners have until April 23 to decide.

Demings heard skepticism from some commissioners, like District 3's Myra Uribe, on whether to put the surtax before voters again after it failed convincingly in 2022.

She said residents continue to suffer financially, that the previous measure's 20-year term was too long and that there's a lack of trust for county government.

"But to think that people are ready to go and say I want to support increasing my taxes, it's gonna be very difficult to pass," Uribe said. "And if it's going to be anything similar to what we did two years ago, I would not even support what we did two years ago."

District 2 Commissioner Christine Moore said she hears constantly about road issues.

"I mean, that is the number one interest and concern and complaint that I hear every day. So I think we would be derelict in duty if we didn't take a look at it," Moore said.

The county now estimates a one-cent sales tax would bring in $759 million a year.

Demings has long sought a transportation sales tax to pay for what he calls a "sustainable, multi-model system." He wanted it on the 2020 ballot, but then the pandemic came along.

The one-cent transportation tax, increasing the county sales tax to 7.5%, went before voters in 2022. At the time, it was expected to bring in $600 million a year to address traffic congestion, pedestrian and bike safety and major improvements to mass transit.

Voters rejected it 58% to 42%.

In a memo to commissioners, Demings said the measure failed because of high inflation, soaring housing costs and "the devastating impact of Hurricane Ian on more than 80,000 residents."

Demings said the transportation challenges will "only get worse" as more people move to Orange County.

Updated: February 6, 2024 at 4:19 PM EST
This story was updated Tuesday afternoon following the Orange County Commission meeting.
Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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