Volusia County Council Takes No Action On Half-Cent Sales Tax Referendum

By on May 1, 2018 in WNDB News

Volusia County, FL – At its Tuesday meeting, the Volusia County Council decided to take no action on the initiative to put a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot, and the Council gave no indication of a date to take up the measure again.

The original initiative would have asked Volusia County residents to vote on the half-cent sales tax during the November 6 election. The tax would have been implemented for 20 years and would have gone into effect beginning January 1, 2019. Money collected from the tax would go toward roads, sidewalks, bridges, water quality, and stormwater and flood control, according to County records. Click here for more.

Each of the cities in Volusia County, as well as the County Council, would have to consent to the referendum in order for it to go on a ballot for voters. Originally, each of the municipalities and the County were in favor of the measure, but during a Monday roundtable with Council members and city officials, some city officials asked the County Council to postpone the vote on the half-cent sales tax referendum.

“I think that the details have been administered properly. I think we could do a little bit better on the perception, but we’re holding our own. The most important thing on any policy is timing, and we (city managers) came to the conclusion that the timing was wrong right now,” Joe Yarbrough, City Manager for South Daytona told the Council on Tuesday. He cited a possible State audit of the referendum, a crowded ballot, and questions about impact fees as reasons for the timing “being wrong.”

Council members Billie Wheeler and Deborah Denys both said at Tuesday’s meeting that there shouldn’t be a vote on the tax referendum until there was a comprehensive discussion about the possibility of raising impact fees collected from developers.

“We are doing a disservice to our constituents by not addressing the elephant in the room,” said Wheeler. “Impact fees need to be part of the discussion and a possible part of the solution.”

“We have to balance the scales for our constituents, and it’s an appearance, true or not, it’s an appearance that it’s an unjust balance to our citizens that we’re going to ask them to support a half-cent sales tax but not require more in a review of the impact fees,” said Denys.

Council Chair Ed Kelley said it was not necessary to have a discussion of impact fees in conjunction with deciding on the sales tax referendum. “Let’s not confuse this (the sales tax referendum) with the impact fees. They are connected, and I hope we all understand that they are connected, but they are not really germane to the decision we need to make right now,” explained Kelley.

Now that the Council has chosen to take no action on the sales tax referendum, the issue may be taken up again at any time, but it would still need consensus from the County and the municipalities.

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.

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