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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Apr. 8, 2019 1 year ago

'This is our best chance': Volusia elected officials continue to gear up for sales tax vote

Ballots will be mailed on May 1.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Volusia County elected officials were encouraged in the following weeks to increase their outreach efforts regarding the half-cent sales tax referendum before the ballots are mailed. 

Former South Daytona City Manager Joe Yarbrough said at the roundtable meeting on Monday, April 8, that what elected officials need to do is get energized. He reiterated that the sales tax was a city-driven initiative, and not county, as he explained that some of those who are opposed to the sales tax have issues with growth and trust with certain officials. The good news, he said, is that all the cities and the county are working to educate the public together.

“I’m optimistic we’re going to end up with over 50% turnout," Yarbrough said. "I’m optimistic this will pass.”  

Volusia County voters will be receiving a mail-in ballot this May for the sales tax referendum. Ballots will need to be in by May 21, and there will be collection boxes throughout the county. For Ormond Beach voters, the ballot will also include questions about the city commission's terms, including staggering and term limits.

DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar said that he got the impression that no one in Volusia's legislative delegation was willing to move away from enacting a two-thirds majority requirement for passing a sales tax referendum, as well as requiring a six-month advance audit by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability and only being able to put them in a general election.

“I say that as a reminder of what Steve [Vanacore] said — this really is our best chance," Apgar said.

With 23 days to go as of April 8, Apgar said they need to encourage people to vote for it. He said cities can encourage people to write letters to the editors, talk to homeowners' associations and take other measures. The next roundtable meeting in May was cancelled so that elected officials could dedicate more time to the sales tax effort.

Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington said the biggest takeaway he receives after talking to people is that they are impressed the dollars are staying local. 

“And then people are impressed that 16 cities and the county have been able to work together to meet a need for something that is very important," Partington said.

Legislature is making it harder for local government, he said, as it tells cities they can't do things and deny funding for projects. 

Kent Sharples, president of the CEO Business Alliance, said he's looking at the half-cent sales tax situation like they're are at a half-time of a basketball game. People need to do what the value of passing it is, he said.

“This is it folks," Sharples said. "We have this one chance to do this thing to fix our water and our roads. If we don't do it this time, the chances of this being done are very, very slim.”

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