Why I am ‘FOR’ the half-cent sales tax

Bethune-Cookman

I love Daytona Beach with every inch of my spirit. I love our Midtown community, I love Bethune-Cookman University our Historically Black College/University – and I’ve even grown to love the Daytona 500!

There are two main reasons why our community and town runs so smoothly; (1) the unending strength and support of our residents; (2) the economic impact of our tourists. In fact, tourism alone generates BILLIONS for our city every year. And while our town may be a historic one, sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. 

We are suffering

Our streets are unpaved and nearly undriveable. Our schools are facing illiteracy rates more than ever. Our community as a whole is suffering.

It has become evident that there is a need for immediate economic empowerment and an opportunity to truly bring change to our city. This is why I say that the half-cent sales tax would be the saving grace our community so desperately needs to make it beautiful again.

Before you say “Rell, I’m not paying any extra taxes,” let me ask you a question. The idea of paying an extra fee on top of a set price is absurd, right? If most of us are already low-income and in poverty, why do we need even more taxes?

Luckily, I’m here to tell you that the half-cent sales tax will not only bring money back in this very community, it’s also going to help cultivate and develop Midtown into the superhub it should’ve been decades ago.

What the tax covers

For starters, necessities such as food, water and medicine will not be affected. As someone who suffers a chronic muscle condition, knowing that my medicine and prescriptions won’t be taxed truly means the world to me. 

That half-a-penny that you’ll be charged on luxury items will all be going back directly into the community via an escrow account. That account will go towards redoing our roads, fixing potholes, getting a better and more efficient water system and the upgrading our neighborhoods.

There’s no reason Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard, which houses one of the nation’s elite HBCUs, should not look like a million-dollar street. The officials who have honored Mrs. Bethune with a statue in Washington, D.C., would be ashamed if they saw how run down MMB has truly become.

Who’s paying for these infrastructure costs? Tourists! Our city thrives off global tourism year after year. I feel it’s a genius move to fill 30 percent of the escrow with tourism funds. That way our local residents who float right above the poverty line won’t have to worry about the financial burden. Tourists who come from all over to shop at Tanger Outlets, One Daytona and the Volusia Mall will be the ones financing this incredible Daytona movement.

Opposition doesn’t care

And while there are many who support our community and families by voting for this change, there are several business owners and local leaders who are voting against it. Over on the beachside, there are gas stations with signs saying, “No Sales Tax.” The middle class doesn’t want to give up their money – a literal half of a penny per dollar – to invest and sow into Daytona Beach and its future as a whole.

They don’t believe Midtown is important enough to invest in and redevelop. So it’s truly up to us– the millennials, the leaders, the activists – to educate the community on the half-cent sales tax and why we so desperately need it to happen!

This upcoming May, you have a chance to finally allow your voice to be heard. Our city is a hub within itself, and it’s time we truly saw its full potential.

The half-cent sales tax would be just the right step we would need to turn our city around. Schools, streets, parks even homes would be positively affected by the money collected by this policy. Your children and your grandchildren will be able to grow up in a positive, clean, safe and respectable community.

Don’t get discouraged by the verbiage; this is one of the easiest votes you can make. The ballot is a mail-in ballot, so you don’t have to leave your home. No standing in lines. It’s literally all from the comfort of your couch.

Now is your chance

For all the former inmates who have recently restored their rights to vote, why not make your voice truly heard for the first time? We have a chance to vote for better neighborhoods, improved streets, and an overall positive adjustment to our ways of life.

If you truly care about Midtown and the children who grow up here, you will do the right thing by securing them a future.

Vote FOR the half-cent sales tax and let’s get our city back – by any means necessary!


Rell Black is an award-winning activist, blogger and the founder of Community Healing Project Inc. Click on this commentary at www.daytonatimes.com to write your own response.

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