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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, May 28, 2019 9 months ago

'Ormond Beach has a good foundation': City officials optimistic despite failed sales tax

The failed tax leaves the city at the 'status quo,' said Mayor Bill Partington.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

The failed half-cent sales tax, an initiative that started back in 2018 and cost the county almost a half-million dollars for a mail-in ballot election, has left in its wake long project wishlists for local infrastructure and water quality needs. 

Ormond Beach is no exception. The city had identified a total of 18 projects that could have utilized some of the sales tax revenue, but, in the aftermath of the 55.3% to 44.7% vote against the new tax, some city officials said they foresaw its demise. 

“I am not completely surprised based on what I’d seen and heard leading up to the vote," Mayor Bill Partington said. "It looked like it was going to have a difficult time, and I think ultimately it failed as a result of kind of being too watered down.”

Partington, who was in favor of the sales tax, said that in the beginning, the sales tax would have just benefitted transportation projects. When other uses were added in, he said it was "doomed for failure." 

Ormond Beach City Commissioner Rob Littleton previously voiced his negative stance on the sales tax at commission meetings, and said he believes the citizens spoke "loudly and clearly" against it.

“Fortunately, the city of Ormond Beach has a good foundation," Littleton said.

The city gets $450,000 annually from the gas tax revenue for road rehabilitation and repaving needs, as well $400,000 in dedicated millage for transportation needs, Littleton said. Ormond Beach also has a transportation lobbyist.

He doesn't expect the city to raise property taxes this year as a result of the failed sales tax. Neither does Partington, though he said it was an option in case the commission wanted to complete a certain project. That will all be discussed at the commission's Capital Improvement Plan budget workshop next Tuesday. 

The failed sales tax leaves the city at the "status quo," he said.

“It was an opportunity for funding that would have sparked some projects getting done on a much accelerated time schedule, but since it didn’t pass and that funding is not available, then it puts us right back where we were," Partington said.

Priority projects will remain as such, he added, but they'll take longer. 

Littleton said whether the city will adopt the rollback rate for the new millage is still up in the air, but that he doubts the city will maintain the current rate; he believes the city will lower property taxes.

“I have the feeling that the city commission as a whole appreciates what the citizens have told them through the recent vote, and they’re going to act in the wishes of the citizens," Littleton said.

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