Having run the West Orange Chamber since 2001, I consider myself an expert in the Chamber world. Even though running the chamber allows me to be involved in so many important issues facing our growing community, I cannot say that I am an expert in all of those issues. However, because of my role, I have access to experts in many fields and many of those revolve around the infrastructure that makes us the community we are today.
Our infrastructure is basically the systems and functions that sustain us as a community. We all know that good schools, parks, natural environment, energy choices, access to telecommunications and internet are just some things we enjoy as residents and need for this community to recruit and sustain businesses that empower a community. Recently, however, many of you have participated in conversations or at least heard about a sales tax that would enable improvements to and the expansion of transportation infrastructure for Orange County.
Many may think that transportation infrastructure is just about roads, yet as important as roads are, widened or not, there is so much more that impacts our daily lives and quality of life under such a big title. Transportation infrastructure includes sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, bike and walking trails, bus service and other mass transit options, street lighting, traffic signalization, drainage structures, and future technologies to make things even more efficient and safe. We all need and want these improvements, yet they come at a price.
Many of us moved here because of the newness of West Orange, the sunshine, no traffic to speak of and no state income tax. Even though we continue to worship our sunshine and the lack of a state income tax, other aspects of our community are changing and will continue to do so as more and more people figure out our secrets for living in Florida. If we want to address some of the changes with an expanding population, especially when it comes to transportation infrastructure, we have to develop another source of income. We need to go from good infrastructure to great and with a dedicated funding source, we can get there.
That is why the West Orange Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to support an item that will be on the November ballot, a one cent Orange County transportation sales tax. These 20 yearlong taxes would be paid primarily by the tourists visiting our community; 51% which amounts to billions of dollars. This tax will also enable us to receive up to $16 billion, over five years, of federal infrastructure dollars. Our towns and cities will be able to truly tackle local issues that impact us every day.
Vote YES on the November ballot for the safety and efficiencies that this tax will enable for our community.