Orange Co. commissioner wants half-cent sales tax on ballot

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Orange County needs more than $300 million in road improvements and at least one county commissioner is proposing a half-cent sales tax to cover the cost.

Commissioner Fred Brummer said the county simply doesn’t have the money, and needs the support of taxpayers.

He’s expected to ask commissioners to put the half-cent sales tax, which would bring in $180 million a year, on the November ballot.

“If they say, ‘No, I’d rather sit in traffic. No, I’d rather not have the opportunities for these recreation activities,’ that’s fine,” Brummer said. “There are projects that are scheduled for this year, and next year that aren’t going to be done until 2018, 2021, if at all.”

County watchdog Doug Head thinks there's a slim chance the proposal will get the commission’s support to make it to a ballot.

“The other commissioners, if they are running for election on the August ballot, aren’t going to be at all interested in promoting taxes at the same time,” he said.

The half-cent sales tax would bring in about $900 million to the county over five years.

Brummer said since the county needs only $300 million to complete the projects, the extra money could go toward cities and towns in Orange County for their projects.

“It is probably not an option that is going to be supported by the voters, no matter how bad their roads are,” Head said.

In November, voters will also have to decide whether they want to continue the half-penny tax for schools.

Channel 9's Kenneth Craig emailed all the commissioners and the mayor about the proposal.

District 1 Commissioner Scott Boyd said in an email that he would consider it only by referendum.

He also said, "At this point I do not have ny information as to what is being proposed and how this would impact the current half-cent the school board is after."