County endorses half-penny sales tax

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  • | 1:28 p.m. September 4, 2014
Thompson challenges Demings, Webster for U.S. House seat
Thompson challenges Demings, Webster for U.S. House seat
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Nearly two-thirds of Orange County voters endorsed a local-option, half-penny sales surtax that will benefit Orange County Public Schools.

Sixty-four percent of early voters, absentee-ballot voters and those who voted during the Aug. 26 primary election day approved the extension. 

That means the county’s sales tax will remain 6.5% until 2025. And extending the life of the tax by 10 years is expected to provide $2 billion, which will be used to renovate 59 county schools and provide technology upgrades.

West Orange County schools that will benefit from the voter-approved extension of the local-option, half-penny sales surtax include Westside Tech, Maxey and Oak Hill elementary schools and Lakeview and Southwest middle schools.

“People are seeing the value of having great facilities and great programs,” said Orange County Public School Board Member Pam Gould, who represents West Orange County. “While there is always room for improvement, we are valuing education in Central Florida.”

OCPS Superintendent Barbara Jenkins thanked the voters for their support.

“All of our students deserve the best learning environment on secure campuses with 21st century technology in their classrooms,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Now, we’ll be able to provide that.”

Without voter approval, the original half-penny tax that began in 2003 would have expired next year. Since it was instituted, the tax has provided money for the renovation or rebuilding of more than 90 schools. They include West Orange schools such as Dr. Phillips and Evans high schools, Ocoee, MetroWest, Palm Lake and Windermere elementary schools and Gotha Middle School.

Voters in the primary election also:

• Chose Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott to face Democrat Charlie Crist in the governor’s race that will be decided in the Nov. 4 General Election;

• Picked Democrat incumbent Geraldine Thompson and Republican Edward DeAguilera to square off in the General Election for the state Senate District 12 seat, which represents cities such as Ocoee and Winter Garden;

• Chose Bryan Nelson as county commissioner for District 2, which includes Ocoee; and

• Elected Diana Tennis, of Orlando, over Patricia Strowbridge, of Windermere, for the Circuit Judge 9, Group 32 seat.