The results are in and a 1 percent sales tax increase for transportation projects did not pass in Osceola County.
Nearly two out of three voters rejected the measure Tuesday (67.2 percent against and 32.7 percent in favor), which would have raised the sales tax rates in Osceola County from 7.5 to 8.5 percent – tying it with Hillsbourgh County for highest in the state.
Many residents voted early and cast mail-in-ballots. By Monday, 6,690 people had already hit the polls and 23,058 mail-in ballots had been received, according to the Osceola County Supervisor of Elections.
Fierce public opposition has followed the penny proposal since Osceola County commissioners unanimously agreed to host the special election three months ago.
General concerns about money management and transparency in local government spurred some residents to display red and white “One Penny Too Many” yard signs and join “Vote No” Facebook pages.
Kissimmee resident Wade Choate endured unrelenting mid-afternoon sun to wave signs against the proposal Tuesday afternoon as final voters trickled in.
Choate said it was worth it to support a cause he believes in. He said he thinks the county doesn’t deserve more money because it mismanages what it has.
And as for an alternative solution to fix Osceola County’s on-going traffic woes?
“There’s always other options,” Choate said.
A political action committee (PAC) formed to support and advertise the 1 percent tax increase, but to no avail. By the end of March, Fix the Traffic! had raised $295,000 and had spent nearly all of it (roughly $281,000) on marketing techniques.
Jayson Frascatore is an Osceola County resident who voted in favor of the increase. He said he did so because he hoped additional revenue might help alleviate congestion near the Celebration area where he lives.
“That’s the only way we have to do it,” Frascatore said.
Osceola residents weren’t the only Central Florida county to vote on a sales tax measure Tuesday. Volusia County held its own half-penny proposal meant to generate revenue for transportation and infrastructure projects. It was also defeated, though the margin was tighter with 55 percent voting no.