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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, May 21, 2019 3 months ago

Voters reject sales tax, four-year terms

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Voters want term limits but won’t get them.
by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

Volusia County voters rejected the proposed half-cent sales tax, 55.3% to 44.7%, despite a big promotional effort including public meetings with government officials and mailers by supporters. Based on statements at the meetings and social media, taxpayers were resentful about the moratorium on impact fees, which have now been reinstated, and how the county has provided economic incentives to businesses.

Ormond Beach heard a resounding “no” echoing throughout the city as voters rejected the four-year term proposal 65.7% to 34.3%. Its defeat meant that staggered terms also went down the drain, because it was dependent on four-year terms passing. Voters said no to staggered terms 57.8% to 42.2%.

Voters said yes to term limits, 62% to 38%, but term limits will not be instated, because the question was also dependent on four-year terms.

There was one proposed change that passed. Ormond Beach voters approved a primary election, 56.6% to 43.4% when more than two candidates are running.

Those who favor a primary election said that with three or more candidates, a person could win with a low percentage of votes. Opponents said the voter turnout is often low and candidates without a lot of financial backing would be pressed to run a campaign for both a primary and general election.

 

HOW IT STARTED

 

City Commissioner Dwight Selby said the commissioners first decided at a workshop that terms should be staggered, so the majority of the commission could not be changed in one election, losing institutional knowledge. Then, they decided that four-year terms would be best, because with staggered, two-year terms there would be an election every year.

"People would get tired of elections," he said recently. 

In the election, most voters apparently thought that two-year terms are good for accountability.

 

NO TAX -- NOW WHAT?

 

The city of Ormond Beach had public meetings to get input from citizens on how additional sales tax should be spent.

Projects such as extending Hand Avenue over Interstate 95, pedestrian crossings on North Nova Road, Tymber Creek widening, an 8-foot sidewalk along North U.S. 1, and trail, water quality and storm water improvements were described at the meetings.

City Manager Joyce Shanahan said these projects have been needed but money was not available.

Selby said the task for completing these projects is much more difficult if a local city does not have funds to match with county or state. 

As an example, he cited North U.S. 1, where a group of citizens contributed $20,000 for median beautification. This led to FDOT eventually contributing millions of dollars to the project.

“That $2.5 million could really stimulate a lot of projects,” Selby said.

He said Ormond Beach has many miles of roads, sidewalks and sewer lines to take care of with available city funds. The city was expected to receive $2.5 million each year from the sales tax.

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