On 9/10/2015 there was Charter Review Committee (CRC) meeting where the mayor was invited to make some comments. I have to say I am a strong supporter of Mayor Jacobs and usually agree with what she says but I was left speechless trying to understand why she said what she said at this meeting. It has taken me this long to digest her comments and come to an understanding on what she was trying to say. I think I have it straight now and it is time to write a blog explaining what is going on. (Date in video is wrong. It is 9/10/2015 meeting.)
The context of the discussion at the CRC meeting was related to the Sales Tax initiative that Commissioner Brummer is proposing to place on the ballot. Regressing for a minute, in March there was a presentation by Mr. Renzo Nastasi, Orange County traffic manager, to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) showing a total infrastructure deficit of 1.6 billion dollars for all of Orange County. You can view the presentation at this url: http://otv.ocfl.net/otv/bcc2015/bcc031015/Default.html, scroll to item #6. What that means is the list of roads that need to be built or improved total 1.6 billion. But what I heard the mayor say is that Orange County doesn’t have a money problem for infrastructure for the next 10 years. I was stunned trying to figure out if we really have an infrastructure deficit. From where I sit, we have a big problem in East Orange County and if we don’t then why is Orange County so interested in Developer money.
I wrote an email to the mayor asking for clarification. Click here to read it. I received a response almost immediately. Click here to read the response that was sent to the CRC.
Here is what I got out of the exchange and also the comments made by the mayor at the CRC meeting.
You really have to look at the context of the discussion which was not really about infrastructure but about placing a sales tax on the ballot in 2016 through the CRC. It was obvious that the mayor is opposed to doing this for a couple of reasons. The first of which is the fact that most of these sales tax initiatives have failed the vote. The reason cited is that Orange County is not the best at selling it to the residents. Many residents distrust government and are skeptical on how the funds will be used. There is also a concern that the money collected now is not being spent. In order for something like this to succeed, the public has to be convinced it is the right thing to do and it will benefit us. The mayor does not want to use this card now and would rather wait until we truly need a sales tax for infrastructure and do the work to make sure it succeed.
She feels funding for our infrastructure needs is covered for the next 10 years as explained in the response email above. I will have to trust her on that one knowing that we have been somewhat left out here in East Orange County for a long time. You will note that the memo cites the sources of the funding for roads over the next 10 years and one of those sources are impact fees. I suppose this also means impact fees from Lake Pickett South and Lake Pickett North if they are approved. I don’t know if Orange County is counting these fees in the total number. That would be a good question to ask.
I guess it is nice to know that our infrastructure issues are covered at least for the next 10 years. So the big obstacle that I thought was preventing fixing our roads which is money is really not an issue now. Knowing this I would hope that our roads in East Orange County will be planned and fixed as soon as possible.