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Port Orange Observer Monday, Jun. 11, 2018 1 week ago

County plans for update to cities' impact fees while looking at special election for half-cent sales tax

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Officials have discussed holding the election in 2019.
by: Nichole Osinski Staff Writer

With the county holding off on putting the half-cent sales tax referendum on the 2018 ballot, officials are now discussing what it would take to have a special election next spring. 

Previously, the cities had voted for the approval of a referendum to the November ballot for consideration of the sales tax increase with funds going toward infrastructure improvements in Volusia County cities and unincorporated areas. 

During a Monday, June 11, Round Table of Volusia County Elected Officials meeting, South Daytona City Manager Joe Yarbrough said a survey showed that 10 cities had transportation impact fees and of those 10, five cities, including South Daytona, hadn't updated their impact fees in more than 10 years. Yarbrough said the objective is for those cities to work on updating the impact fees as the county secures a date for the election. 

Yarbrough said that one possibility is to have a mailed ballot around March or April with the cost being split between the cities and the county. 

"There's a lot to be done in preparation," Yarbrough said. 

Volusia County Council Chair Ed Kelley said now that the referendum will most likely not be on the November ballot, he is hoping officials can come together and have a special election. He said that if it were up to him he would have held the election, especially as cities have had workshops for residents. 

"We all came together, 17 of us, to work together for the good of the residents and that's all the ones that would benefit ... and the ones that are going to lose in this area are the residents," Kelley said. "The needs that we currently have are not going to go away."

When the Port Orange City Council voted 5-0 on Tuesday, Feb. 20, to encourage the County Council to add the referendum to the November ballot, Mayor Don Burnette said the Council had a responsibility to move this forward in order that residents could decide if they wanted it or not. Burnette had stated this was something he was "certainly not going to decide on." 

Oak Hill Mayor Douglas Gibson said he was also in favor of putting the half-cent sales tax on the November ballot. Gibson said that what stymied the referendum was that there was too much focus on the tax funds going toward roads. He said that there needed to be more information about it also going toward water quality. 

Gibson said because of this he would like to see more residents educated on what the tax is for and how it will work. 

"If we're going to spend $500,000 for an election down the road, why not take $250,000 and use it to educate the voter?" Gibson said, adding that water quality was "the number one issue that everybody [who] was contacted in that survey felt was important. I think it'll pass if it gets on there and we educate the voters."

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