BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The City of Daytona Beach kicked off a series of April meetings on Tuesday about the proposed half-cent sales tax.
Tuesday’s meeting was held at the John H. Dickerson Community Center and several others also are scheduled at sites in predominantly Black neighborhoods.
The countywide initiative is designed to raise funds for capital improvement projects such as roads, sidewalks and flooding in all of the county’s 16 municipalities.
If approved by voters in May, the additional half-cent sales tax is expected to bring in $45 million per year countywide for the next 20 years. The tax is estimated to generate $3.7 million per year for Daytona Beach alone and over $74 million during the 20-year span.
The money raised in each municipality is designed to be spent in that municipality.
In Daytona Beach, the half-cent tax could provide $46.4 million to improve existing streets; $12.9 million for new sidewalks and $15 million to improve flood prone areas.
Road improvements could net the following: Zone 1 (28 miles of roads at over $6.9 million); Zone 2 (32 miles at over $8.2 million); Zone 3: (27 miles at $8.1 million); Zone 4 (31 miles at over $8.7 million); Zone 5 (24 miles at over $6.5 million); Zone 6 (27 miles at over $7.7 million).
Fifty-seven percent of the roads in Daytona
There also are plans to pump millions into improving stormwater drainage and flooding in Midtown and the Wilder Boulevard outfall.
May 21 return
The half-cent tax ballot will be mailed out by the Volusia County Supervisor of Election Office on May 1 and must be returned by May 21.
Volusia County/Daytona Beach NAACP President Cynthia Slater was concerned about Tuesday’s turnout.
“I’m always concerned with low turnout or no show in the African-American community when it comes to meeting and forums that informs you on what is going on and what affects your lives,” she said. “I don’t know how the word is getting out or if people are just not interested. Hopefully, it gets better. This was the first meeting.”
‘A matter of informing’
City officials aren’t too concerned about the turnout.
“Today just shows that we need to try to find a way to get the information out. We hope to get help from the press like the (Daytona) Times,” said City Manager Jim Chisholm. “We want to show the public what this is about. It’s just a matter of informing.’’
Chisholm noted that funds for the projects spread evenly across each zone within the city.
“We’ll still need more money, but we can always partner with other entities such as county, state and federal entities,” he noted.
He also responded to concern about jobs for Blacks.
“We want to find qualified people to work on these projects. We are looking to partner with those organizations, groups and business that can help us with those. We can do incentives for them to do so as well,’’ Chisholm added.
The city is looking to inform the public on the proposed tax as well as get feedback.
“Anytime we do something, it is important that the city be informed, especially when it comes to voting on something. They need to make an intelligent decision. This is the first of several meetings. The county has meetings as well,” noted Daytona Commissioner Paula Reed, who represents Zone 6.
Residents who attended the meeting had mixed views.
“I came in on the back end of the meeting. I need to be more informed. It would be good, however. We can get some money to fix up the area, especially the flooding in this community,” said Posey Elliott.
Some residents within the city already have made up their minds.
“I am voting no for a lot of reasons. I don’t see the accountability and they are not explaining how we got here or why we are here now,” said Linda Smiley.
Ann Ruby echoed, “It feels to me that when it comes to sidewalks, roads and storm drainage that these are things that our tax money already pay for. Why are we here? If the same people are in charge with the same philosophy, we’ll get nowhere.
“She added, “The city gave Brown & Brown $800,000 to $1 million dollars for their project. That is money that could have been put towards such infrastructure projects.”
Ruby was referring to Brown & Brown Insurance headquarters going up in downtown Daytona Beach.
IF YOU GO
All of the city meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be held at Daytona Beach sites. The meetings are intended to be informal and residents are invited to stop by at their
convenience, anytime between 5:30 and 7 p.m. to review project displays. City staff will be available to answer questions.
There will also be an opportunity for citizens and property owners to provide feedback on project priorities.
All of the meetings start at 5:30 p.m. and are held at sites in Daytona Beach.
- Thursday, April 4, Midtown Cultural & Educational Center, 925 George W. Engram Blvd.
- Tuesday, April 9, Yvonne Scarlett Golden Cultural and Educational Center, 1000 Vine St.
- Thursday, April 11, Sunnyland Park Activity Building, 825 Washington Ave.
- Tuesday, April 16, Allen Chapel AME Church, 580 George Engram Blvd.
- Thursday, April 18, Daytona Beach Fire Station #7, 2545 LPGA Blvd.
- Tuesday, April 23, Schnebly Recreation Center, 1101 N. Atlantic Ave.
- Thursday, April 25, Daytona Beach Police Department, 129 Valor Blvd.
- Tuesday, April 30, Church of Christ, 850 Beville Road.