Orange County Leaders must decide if residents or tourism special interests will pay for transportation projects

Note: Orange County wrote me to say that the road improvement for the Universal area was planned all along but the money wasn’t available until Universal “stepped up” to provide their part of the revenue. They also wanted to point out that the Board of County Commissioners don’t have direct access to TDT and that changes over expenditures need to be determined at the state level.

The Orange County Mayor and his administration have recently kicked off a town hall tour to advocate for a transportation sales tax increase that could go before voters next year. The money collected would go towards  transportation needs in the community.

While it’s fair to see that the revenue is needed for transportation in the area (story HERE), it’s not fair to say that it should be you who has to pay for it.

Especially, when there is a potential revenue sources already at the county’s disposal.

The Tourism Development Tax, revenues collected by hotel night stays, is a robust financial resource that’s fueled by our roaring theme park business and reinforces our standing as a family vacation destination to the rest of the world. There are millions available to local leaders for neighborhood improvements. If they want to change how we spend it.

“Why wouldn’t they want it? That sounds great.”

I would agree. The problem here is that TDT has to be spend on tourism. This is especially to the liking of the  tourism industry, who are also the major campaign donors who give hundreds of thousands to political candidates every election cycle. They don’t want to come out of pocket for transportation costs that help their theme parks.

Instead they want to go to you, the taxpayer, to pick up the bill. This includes a road that is currently under development for a new park near Universal Studio. The county is prepared to handover $125 million dollars of your money for their road.

It’s not fair. Is it?

And then to add insult to injury, they’re going to these town halls with data given to them by VISIT Orlando, the local tourism industry who also receives money from the county to advocate for these tax hikes, saying you’ll only pay for half of the tax (story HERE). I question the accuracy of their assessment.

How about we use TDT for exactly what it’s meant for? And make these transportation improvement in the region that will help the employees of these theme parks get to work? Because of the low wages they’re paid, many still use public transportation. The rest are still driving the same roads we do to get to work.

It’s a decision Orange County Leaders will have to make. The donors or their constituents?

I don’t like your odds.

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