As the midterm elections loom, advocates for specific measures are making their final pushes. One measure up for voter approval in Orange County is a sales tax increase that would fund the county’s transportation infrastructure. Its advocates held a rally on Wednesday night in downtown Orlando to drum up support.
Sales Tax Increase Would Boost Orange County Transit
Both Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings support the measure. They say that the sales tax is the best and most efficient way to build a better transit system in Orlando. Dyer even took to the transit system on Tuesday, riding on SunRail and taking a circulator bus later in the day.
Advocates at the rally touted the many potential benefits of the sales tax increase. One of the biggest benefits they noted was improvements to service for SunRail and for buses. With money from the sales tax, transit would run much more frequently, including on weekends and holidays. More bus routes would also crop up, shoring up service for those in transit deserts. And the tax would also help fund road and pedestrian improvements.
While the tax increase is expected to raise around $600 million each year, only 45% of that would go directly to public transit projects. Another 45% would go to road improvements, while cities, including Orlando, would split the remaining 10%.
But It Would Come at a Cost
However, not everyone is on board with the tax. The ballot proposal would increase sales taxes in the county by a full 1%, from its current 6.5% up to 7.5%. This steep of a hike has some Orange County residents understandably concerned.
The main critique of the sales tax is that it places an unfair burden on ordinary Orange County residents. Even the tax’s opponents acknowledge the need for better public transit in the region. But they want that tax burden to fall on tourists, not residents. Some opponents of the tax also criticized the spending plan, which would give a lot of funding to SunRail, a project that many do not see as fruitful.
Ultimately, voters will have the final say on November 8th. Make sure to cast your ballot at an Orange County polling place to make your voice heard!