Did The Mayor Just Change His Mind About The County Sales Tax Increase?

 

Port Orange balks at paying for tax survey, offers just $5

 

 

Published: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 7:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 9:07 p.m.

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PORT ORANGE — The City Council sent a clear message to county officials regarding a request to help pay for a survey gauging voter interest in a half-penny sales tax.

“We’ll pitch in five bucks,” Mayor Allen Green said Tuesday night about the survey, estimated to cost $100,000 to $150,000.

But on Wednesday, Green said he might revisit the decision.

The city’s response was directed at the Volusia County Council, which recently agreed to contribute half of a consultant’s fee to see if voters would support an additional half-cent sales tax earmarked for transportation needs, such as road improvements, on the 2016 ballot.

The county then sent a fill-in-the-blank request to cities hoping that they would help foot the other half of the bill. The response so far has been mixed, with Ormond Beach denying the request and Daytona Beach Shores agreeing to pay up to $837.

The request sprang out of a meeting of city managers, members of the business community and Chambers of Commerce to decide whether a survey would be warranted. Deputy County Manager Mary Anne Connors, who presented the group’s findings to the County Council Sept. 10, said the group agreed the study was necessary.

If a half-cent tax were approved by voters, it would generate an estimated $32 million in its first year. And while Port Orange leaders stressed a real need for transportation dollars, leaders on Tuesday uttered what they considered the subtext of a survey out loud.

“Let’s be realistic. This is about SunRail,” Councilman Don Burnette said of the commuter rail that connects Orlando and DeBary and may be extended to DeLand.

Several council members said they didn’t agree with the methodology for sharing the survey cost.

“I feel very ill at ease spending taxpayers’ money in a political campaign to get more taxpayers’ money,” said Councilman Bob Ford.

He said the county wants Port Orange to contribute 14.76% of the survey’s cost, but he said he doesn’t think Port Orange would get an equal percentage of the half-penny sales tax. The resolution calling for the survey doesn’t specify how much each city would get from the sales tax, nor does it list what transportation projects would be undertaken with the money.

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