This morning, I had the opportunity to watch both the Orange County Mayor and the Mayor of Orlando, discuss the transportation penny sales tax initiative the county wants to put before voters this year.
A quick note. This is strictly a policy issue. There are good people that both support and oppose this issue. Review the data and make your own decision.
But there is a problem with some questions that have remained unanswered. And this is important if our leaders are going to raise taxes during the worst rental crisis we’ve ever seen in the area. Many of us are struggling to keep a roof over our head.
Here are some concerns that remain unanswered or are still in the decision making process.
We need committees that exclude special interests: The reason the Affordable Housing Task Force failed is because it was stacked with developers and real estate salesmen that only wanted to make money for themselves. This will happen again if Orange County leaders put bad appointees on the board.
The data is flawed and biased: The county is pushing data paid for by Visit Orlando that says tourists will pay the majority of this tax. We need a new study from an outside source that isn’t being subsidized by us and isn’t compromised by self preservation.
What about Orange County dollars spilling into Osceola and Seminole counties? Our buses and trains don’t stay in Orange County, they serve the tri county area. Can we afford to be paying for transportation improvements many of us won’t even have the opportunity to use? What are we doing to get the most localized solutions installed?
Tourism and Hospitality remain exempt from contributing: The theme parks have their own pot of money that is protected, and will benefit the most from these improvements off the of the backs of our neighbors, who work in their parks and hotels. Do they really need anymore support from us?
Our transportation agencies haven’t demonstrated proficiency: LYNX has been bad for almost 30 years. Sunrail is always late. I know this firsthand. Are we sure we have the right leaders in place to do the job before we give them more money?
We simply can’t afford it right now: Our leaders are raising taxes, but doing nothing to stop the parasitic rent increases we’re experiencing right now. Instead of protecting us, they’re trying to take more money from us.
Listen. I know good faith when I see it. And it’s here. But struggling families are already hurting and we need to evaluate all of our options before moving forward.