Spring Sales Tax Vote To Cost Taxpayers $490,000

By on January 10, 2019 in WNDB News

 

DeLand, FL – The Volusia County Council is giving voters a chance to approve or deny a half-cent sales tax during a special election that is set to cost taxpayers $490,000.

A 6-1 vote by the VCC at their meeting earlier today (January 10th) means residents will get the chance to vote for or against that tax – meant to improve road and water quality in the county – as soon as this spring.

That $490,000 would need to be collected by the county within 90 days to move forward with the special election’s spring date.

Some cities, such as Deltona, would need to put in 11% while some smaller cities like Oak Hill or Daytona Beach Shores will only have to put forward less than 1%, with the county paying over $240,000.

According to the council’s report, the new half cent sales tax could generate as much as $42 million a year over the next 20 years that can help with different rehabilitation projects in and around the county.

However, the topic of the half cent sales tax didn’t go without controversy among residents. One resident named Charles, who has been a Volusia resident since 1965, says the County shouldn’t pass the tax, claiming the county has given an excess of a billion dollars in tax breaks and incentives to corporations for over 50 years.

His claim is that he cannot support it while some county residents seem to be suffering.

“I can’t see that, I just cannot do it,” Charles said to the county council. “People are coming down and a whole lot of them are living on social security, they can’t decide whether they want to eat this month or pay their medical bill to try and stay alive a little bit longer.”

Another concern brought up by a resident was by a Daytona Beach resident named John Nicholson. Nicholson’s concern with the sales tax brought up the fact that the funds for the tax would be distributed based on permanent population, not temporary population, citing that certain groups such as vacationers and “snow birds” cannot be considered part of the population.

His fear is that a lot of people come to Daytona Beach to visit and work and that the county overlooked that one very important fact about the city.

“We have three million people coming into town and you’re telling us it doesn’t even matter,” Nicholson said. “We have people coming to work, we have a construction boom in Daytona Beach… Five hotels are going up on the beachside, we have 10,000 college kids coming in to go to school and you’re telling them they’re not even worth it.”

The sales tax did see some support including one from Douglas Gibson, the mayor of Oak Hill. However, since the sales tax distribution will be based on population, Mayor Gibson fears that Oak Hill, a city of 2,000 residents, would not get enough.

“St. John’s Water Management has a match program for grants, they require 33% match,” said Gibson. “Oak Hill’s portion of the revenue would not reach that level.”

In response, Mayor Gibson said that Oak Hill would need help from the County and its staff to help on any city projects. He ended his note by saying the council should get a mail-in ballot ready as soon as they could and that he supports the new tax.

One other concern brought up during the meeting would be brought up by Councilwoman Deb Denys who, was in favor of the tax, feared the cities might not agree with what they have to put forward for the special election.

The tax was eventually put to a vote which was met with a 6-1 result, with the only no vote coming from Councilwoman Heather Post.

Post’s concern was that a recent survey that showed the measure would pass didn’t accurately capture the full opinion of the county, as the survey only covered around .06% of the county population.

The council has set the date for the public to vote on the tax sometime in the spring, with Councilwoman Billie Wheeler recommending it get’s finished before May. The council also mentioned that city officials will begin to work this week to deliver ballots in the mail before summer begins.

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