Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings has renewed his push for a transportation sales tax. Demings originally proposed the tax in 2019, but it was tabled due to COVID-19.
The tax would provide necessary funds for transportation projects. It would increase sales tax county-wide by one cent per dollar, from 6.5% to 7.5%. That increase in taxes would raise an estimated $600 million per year. Some items, such as untaxed food and utility bills, would not change. Neither would certain large purchases beyond $5,000.
45% of the transportation sales tax revenue would go towards public transit, while another 45% would go towards widening and maintaining large commuter thoroughfares. The final 10% would go to local cities and towns.
Demings’ administration launched a survey to gauge community interest in the tax increase. It will close on April 25th. After that, the city will vote on whether or not the tax should be on the ballot for November.
Transportation Sales Tax Timing Questioned
Mayor Demings believes the tax increase is well-timed due to the increasing burden of transportation and fuel costs on Orange County residents. The tax will alleviate some of that burden in the long term. The mayor’s office aims to make transportation in the county more varied and safer, as well as increase affordable housing near transit hubs.
However, opponents feel that the tax’s effects will take too long to help those who need it now. With gas prices so high, some residents resent the increased burden on people of lower income. After all, sales tax increases affect all taxpayers. So, the proportional burden falls more on poorer residents.
Orlando and Orange County could benefit greatly from this measure as it could reduce traffic burdens on regular folks. And we know how Orlando’s roads are, given how our door-to-door transport brings us to all parts of the city. So, if you feel strongly about this tax, take the survey and make your voice heard!