Windermere committee talks long-range planning

Windermere’s Long Range Planning Committee discussed what the proposed Orange County one-cent sales tax increase could mean for the town, if implemented.

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  • | 1:25 p.m. August 28, 2019
  • Southwest Orange
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Although much of the growth in West Orange County is taking place in the Horizon West area, the town of Windermere has its eyes set on long-range planning, too.

The seven-member Long Range Planning Committee provides a long-range plan and vision for the future of town and ensures that such plans address and further the town’s mission.

Long Range Planning members met Thursday, Aug. 22, to discuss topics like the town facilities update, new banners and entrance signage, and the Orange County one-cent sales tax proposal. While these topics stayed in discussion and no solid motions were made one way or another, Long Range Planning members were able to obtain more information on what Windermere might face in the future.

One of the most heavily discussed items was reviewing the countywide sales tax proposal, which Town Manager Robert Smith primed the committee on. Smith was among many county administrators, representatives and city managers who met with leaders for details on the proposal.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings proposed in May the one-cent increase, which would raise the county sales tax to 7.5%. The purpose, Demings said, is to create a funding source for furthering transportation. 

Smith and committee members discussed the possibilities of how this increased sales tax might affect or benefit Windermere, should it be implemented.

“Their viewpoint is it’s a transport issue, there’s a lot of congestion on the roadways and we need pedestrian trails,” Smith said. “A thousand people are moving to Orange County every single week. They know that right now with the amount of gas tax they have it’s not going to be sustainable to offset the cost, not only of the infrastructure they need, but also the maintenance of infrastructure.”

Smith said that, as currently proposed, that extra money generated from the extra penny sales tax would go straight to the county. He told committee members that, should the town decide to support this initiative, there needs to be some sort of algorithm that points back to West Orange County in appropriating funds. For example, if the initiative was considered an infrastructure sales surtax, a certain percentage of it goes to all municipalities based on population.

“When we met with them it was mostly just Lynx and SunRail and then, ‘We have this huge pot of money we’re going to put to all these different theories,’ meaning pedestrian crossings, intersection improvements and stuff like that,” Smith said. “Their argument is, ‘Instead of the top down we want to work from the community up.’ They want to have the referendum first reading in front of the county commissioners in February in order for it to be on the presidential ballot in November. It’s a very aggressive timeframe for a lot of questions that are unanswered right now.

“From our standpoint, if we all are collectively working as one, meaning all of West Orange County, if something were to happen … we still want some mechanism where we’re going to get some money,” Smith said. “We want to see what we can do what with our position in West Orange County, because most of the growth is over here.”


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