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Battle strains forming over Orange County transportation tax vote – WFTV Orlando


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — As September involves an in depth, campaigns and debates are springing to life on either side of what is going to seemingly be essentially the most consequential vote in Orange County this November.

In entrance of voters: whether or not the county ought to increase the gross sales tax from 6.5% to 7.5% to fund a transportation overhaul.

The $600 million per yr collected from that will be used to fund quite a lot of road, sidewalk and bike path improvements throughout the county, in addition to a massive expansion of the Lynx bus system and Sunrail community.

Supporters say the proposal is many years overdue to assist ease the area’s site visitors woes and notice that 51% of the tax could be paid by vacationers.

READ: Orange County campaign pushes for one-cent transportation tax

“The joke is you drive an hour in Orlando, and also you’re nonetheless in Orlando. We’ve received to repair that,” Orlando YIMBY co-leader Austin Valle mentioned. “You’ve received to spend money on your communities and your transportation to make that work.”

Regardless of voters’ typical aversions to tax will increase, early indicators level to the “sure” aspect, which is backed by many county officers, as having the higher hand because of the widespread frustration.

Nonetheless, a small however rising community of voters is organizing to pressure the county to hit the brakes. The “Ax the Tax” motion has been handing out yard indicators to voters of all stripes to cease what they imagine is dangerous coverage.

Read: How the Inflation Reduction Act will affect Floridians

“Don’t increase taxes throughout [a] recession, the plan is just not equitable to underserved communities and it spends cash on SunRail,” Brian Christopher Henley rattled off as he listed the explanations his coalition will vote no.

Henley’s group agrees with the sure marketing campaign in a single respect: the overhaul to the transit community is sorely wanted. Nonetheless, they imagine a gross sales tax improve is the mistaken solution to go about it.

As a substitute, he provided options that will goal the vacationer district extra closely, similar to a particular tax enchancment district, and reasonably than greenlight the county’s “want record” all of sudden, he mentioned he would begin with essentially the most vital upgrades, which he specified is the bus system to get service staff to and from their jobs.

READ: Orange County mayor relaunches initiative for 1% sales tax hike for transportation improvements

He additionally mentioned the county and metropolis governments wanted to handle some elementary points just like the low density neighborhoods it’s making an attempt to run bus strains by means of.

“It’s making an attempt to promote all people one thing with out giving the underserved areas what they really want, so we predict they need to first begin with them,” he mentioned.

READ: Orange County’s newest sales pitch: higher taxes, more transit

Supporters like Valle counter that the county has carried out sufficient kicking the can down the highway, and a devoted income stream watched by a citizen’s oversight board is the suitable solution to go.

“Now’s the time to lastly repair the errors that had been made during the last a number of many years,” he mentioned.

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