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Osceola Sales Tax Hike Could Ease Transportation Woes

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — In about two months, Osceola voters will decide if the county will add another penny to its sales tax.

Long time Osceola County resident Darren Briles says he would rather bike everywhere because he thinks the “the traffic is terrible.” Osceola County commissioners hope to fix the problem with an increase in sales tax.

On May 21, voters will decide whether they want to raise taxes from 7.5 percent to 8.5.

Tawny Olore, the Executive Director of Transportation and Transit, said if it passes, those funds will only be used for transportation — things like new and improved roads and bridges, creating safer walking and biking options, enhancing bus services, and SunRail.

“Right now the funding that we have currently for transportation, we can widen a road from 2-4 lanes one road every 7-10 years,” Olore said. “We have a backlog of $1.1 billion worth of road improvements.”

Olore said this is a shared solution because everyone including tourists pay sales taxes. She said visitors will pay more than a third of the tax. If this doesn’t pass, however, she said commissioners could look at raising a different tax instead.

“Property taxes to bring in that kind of revenue, you have to increase the mileage rate by 2.6. That’s really a 40 percent increase to the property taxes, which is just paid by the residents and commercial within Osceola County,” Olore explained.

Olore said the one penny sales tax would average out to $10 per person per month, but some folks like Briles say it’s just too much of a burden.

“People are having a rough time now financially,” Briles added. “They’re talking about raising taxes — that’s just going to make it a whole lot worse.”

The transportation department will have presentations at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at 7 p.m. at the Poinciana Library
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at the Kissimmee Bay Rotary Club
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