- July 16, 2022
West Orange Chamber of Commerce
Having run the West Orange Chamber since 2001, I consider myself an expert in the chamber world. Even though running the chamber allows me the opportunity to be involved in so many important issues facing our growing community, I cannot say that I am an expert in all of those issues. However, because of my role, I have access to experts in many fields and many of those revolve around the infrastructure that makes West Orange so desirable.
Our infrastructure is basically the systems and functions that sustain us as a community. We all know good schools, health care, parks, natural environment, energy choices and access to the internet are just some of what we enjoy as residents and need for this community to recruit and sustain businesses that empower a community. These are all infrastructure and another truly important aspect of our infrastructure is transportation.
Many may think transportation infrastructure is just about roads. Yet as important as roads are — widened or not — there is so much more that impacts our daily lives and quality of life under such a big title. Transportation infrastructure includes sidewalks; pedestrian crossings; bike and walking trails; bus service and other mass-transit options; street lighting; traffic signalization; drainage structures; and future technologies to make things even more efficient and safe. We all need and want these improvements, yet they come at a price and a decision to make about that price.
Many of us moved here because of the newness of West Orange, the sunshine, little to no traffic to speak of and no state income tax. Even though we continue to worship our sunshine and the lack of a state income tax, other aspects of our community are changing — and will continue to do so as more and more people figure out our secrets for living in West Orange and in Florida. If we want to address some of the changes with an expanding population, especially when it comes to transportation infrastructure, we have to develop another source of income. We need to go from good infrastructure to great and with a dedicated funding source, we can get there.
That is why the West Orange Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to support an item that will be on the November ballot, a one-cent Orange County transportation sales tax. These 20 year-long taxes would be paid primarily by the tourists visiting our community — 50% — which amounts to billions of dollars. The sales tax applies to the first $5,000 of sales and would not apply to essential grocery items, prescription drugs, medical supplies and utilities. The tax also will enable us to receive billions of dollars, over five years, of federal infrastructure matching dollars. Our towns and cities will also receive annual funding to tackle truly, local issues that impact us every day.
Recently, the mayors of Orange County, towns of Oakland and Windermere and cities of Ocoee and Winter Garden were featured at a chamber and West Orange Foundation luncheon. At the luncheon, they each highlighted short and long-term projects that would benefit from these tax dollars, if you, the voters, vote “yes” at the general election. To hear from them, click here.
Vote yes for transportation on the November ballot for the good of our community, to improve our roads, safety for our children heading to and from school, improved and more bus routes to get employees to work more efficiently, expanded trails and innovation that will keep West Orange County Moving Forward.