Clergy hosting sales-tax session

You can bring your ballot to the May 6 meeting

half-cent sales tax
DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR. / HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Daytona Beach city staff held the last in a series of informational meetings on the half-cent sales tax on Tuesday at the Church of Christ on Beville Road.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

The ballots for the special election on a proposed countywide half-cent sales tax have been mailed.

The tax is designed to raise funds for improvement projects such as roads, sidewalks, stormwater projects, flooding and bridges.

Voters are to choose whether they are in favor or against the tax, then get their ballots back to the Supervisor of Elections office by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21.

Ballots, which were mailed out on Wednesday, can be mailed or

dropped off at Daytona Beach City Hall or at city halls in each of the county’s 16 municipalities.

Information session

The Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance is hosting a forum Monday, May 6, to help residents who still want more information about the tax. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church in Daytona Beach.

The goal is to inform and assist residents. City officials will be on hand at the event to discuss the tax and Daytona Beach projects it will cover.

“It’s another information session. We want to inform churches and citizens. It’s for the public. The city meetings weren’t as well-attended. We want people to come with their ballots and get informed to make an educated decision,” Kim Crawford, executive assistant to the Black Clergy Alliance, told the Daytona Times.

‘We must continue’

The city hosted meetings at various venues during April.

“I believe that we must continue to inform the public. I think the Daytona Times, the city, the clergy and everyone are doing a good job informing citizens, but we must continue. We are still taking questions and adding streets,’’ said Daytona Commissioner Quanita May, who represents Zone 3.

“I think citizens must keep in mind the past, but at some point you must trust your city officials will do what is in the best interest of the community.’’

Money raised by the tax will be spent in the municipality where it’s raised.

The half-cent tax is estimated to bring in $45 million per year countywide, including $3.7 million per year to Daytona Beach and over $74 million to the city over 20 years.

In Daytona Beach, the tax could provide $46.4 million to improve existing streets; $12.9 million for new sidewalks and $15 million to improve flood prone areas.

The city plans to spend 62 percent of funds raised by the tax on roads, 20 percent on flood control and 17 percent on sidewalks.

Daytona Beach City Manager James Chisholm takes questions from citizens.

Clergy taking lead

The clergy believe it’s important that voters be informed on the matter.

“It’s important that the clergy take the lead in informing the public. A lot of times only the older people are informed on political issues,’’ Crawford noted.’’

“There are still a lot of people not following the news. The church provides spiritual focus but must also inform people on the issues. This issue affects our community directly.’’

Ballot concerns

Those who attend the forum will learn how to fill it out and mail it in as well.

Crawford explained, “It’s important. It’s a load off. This is the first ever mail-in ballot in the history of this county. We want people to know. The issue with mail-in is that it gets forgotten.

“You can drop your ballot off at any city hall or town hall. You can also have someone drop your completed ballots off for you. A lot of older people can’t get to the mailbox.”

The local NAACP will watch out for irregularities but has other concerns.

Reaching out Cynthia

Slater, president of the Volusia County/ Daytona Beach NAACP, expressed, “We have trust in Lisa Lewis, the Supervisor of Elections and her staff, which has shown to be cooperative and open. The main thing is that voters in our community need to understand that when looking at an initiative like this it’s difficult for people to fill out and mail in their ballots.

“It should be easy, but we must make phone calls and reach out. We will connect with churches to encourage their congregations. Churches normally have the highest concentration of voters. People also need to understand exactly what it is and how it affects them.”

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