Tax decision involving Yankees minor league relocation delayed in Marion County

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Marion County commissioners held a public hearing about a sales tax increase, and they got an earful from residents.

The half-cent hike would help bring a New York Yankees minor league team to Ocala.

The decision has been put off again, and some are concerned the Yankees might back out if it is delayed any longer.

Tuesday morning was supposed to be decision day to put a sales tax question on a countywide ballot for March 18, asking voters to OK the tax hike to pay for the $53 million baseball stadium along Interstate 75.

But some members of the county commission don't like the tax increase, so they agreed to postpone their decision on a countywide vote to work on another way to finance the stadium.

Commissioner Carl Zalak said, "If we can do this without having to raise taxes, there's no doubt that our community would, I think, be in a better position."

Zalak would not reveal details of the alternative financing plans. The new options will be presented at the Jan. 7 commission meeting.

"I truly believe that through working together, there are solutions out there that may not require a tax increase," said Zalak.

In the meantime, members of the Ocala City Council said they contacted the Yankees and asked them to be patient.