The Plan for a Penny (Sales Tax)
On Monday, March 14th, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings presented an update to his penny sales tax proposal to fund projects to improve transportation within the County. Originally announced at the 2019 State of the County by Mayor Demings, the current plan calls for putting the proposed penny sales tax on the November 2022 ballot for Orange County residents to decide, pending a vote by the Board of County Commissioners. If passed,
the transportation tax dollars would go through a three-step oversight process, with review by a Technical Committee, as well as an appointed Citizens Oversight Board and the Board of County Commissioners.
The measure would raise the sales tax, currently sitting at 6.5% to 7.5%, providing an estimated $600 million per year for transportation projects, including expanding Lynx and SunRail stops. According to the proposal, tourists and visitors are expected to contribute 51%
of that revenue. The added tax would apply to the first $5,000 per single purchase, but essential food items, prescription drugs, and utilities would be exempt.
Touting the proposed benefits of the plan, Demings said residents would see a return on their investment; adding the money collected from the sales tax hike will help create time-saving and efficient transit and developments that will protect pedestrians and bicyclists. However, not everyone is "on board" with the extra penny. In an environment of record-breaking inflation, increased gas prices, and coming off the heels of a global pandemic, opponents of
the plan feel that the proposal is ill-timed. The Mayor's question to opponents is, "If not us, then who? If not now, then when?" There's no better time because, with this, we are talking about reducing the cost of transportation for those very residents who now only have one option in our community," continued Demings. The County has held open houses to discuss
the initiative in each of the six commission districts. Additionally, there is also a survey to get residents' input.