You may have questions as Orange County resumes the Transportation Sales Tax effort. As this process evolves, we will keep you updated.
What’s being proposed?
The Transportation Sales Tax Initiative will be placed on the November 2022 ballot for Orange County residents to decide. It’s estimated the Transportation Sales Tax would generate nearly $600 million per year to meet short-term and long-term transportation needs.
What would the funds be used for?
The Transportation Sales Tax would fund specific transit and transportation infrastructure needs in Orange County to increase safety, mobility and connectivity. This includes:
- Improving county roadways and intersections
- Improving traffic signal technology
- Expanding LYNX bus service and SunRail commuter rail service
- Improving pedestrian safety
- Adding more bike lanes and bike safety improvements
- Adding street lighting and sidewalks
- Providing transportation funding to municipal governments in Orange County.
Who’s paying for this?
Anyone who pays sales tax in Orange County. However, more than 51 percent of the funds generated would be paid by tourists and visitors from outside of Orange County.
Who’s overseeing how Transportation Sales Tax dollars will be spent?
The Transportation Sales Tax dollars would go through an oversight process, with review by a Technical Committee, as well as by an appointed Citizens Oversight Board and ultimately the Board of County Commissioners.
Will you be collecting the Transportation Sales Tax on groceries, medicine and other necessary items?
No. The Transportation Sales Tax would not be collected on essential food items, such as bread, milk nor other foods not taxed now. Prescription drugs would be exempt, as would utilities.
How much will I have to pay in extra sales tax if I buy a car, purchase major appliances, or make other major purchases?
The Transportation Sales Tax would only apply to the first $5,000 of a single purchase of retail goods and services. Essentially, the extra penny charged for the added sales tax would be capped at $50, even if the single purchase of retail goods and services is more than $5,000.
Why don’t you just raise the gas tax?
Gasoline sales tax revenues remain flat, and are expected to decline in the future. It is important to explore a separate dedicated revenue source to meet transportation funding needs in Orange County.
I hear Florida could be getting federal infrastructure dollars. So why do we need the Transportation Sales Tax?
It is true that federal dollars could help jump-start certain infrastructure projects, but Orange County would be required to provide some degree of local matching funds, and have a dedicated funding source when applying for those federal grants. The Transportation Sales Tax would ensure a consistent amount of funding is available for Orange County to apply for federal infrastructure dollars.
We have gone through uncertain economic and world events. Why do this now?
Improving transportation helps us buffer price increases at the gas pump, as well as other price increases due to economic and world events. Efficient mass transit offers lower transportation costs to commuters and ensures access to employment opportunities during uncertain economic times. The Transportation Sales Tax would go a long way to provide transportation services that are convenient, connected, and promote safety and sustainability in the years to come.
How will the Transportation Sales Tax make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists?
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Orange County had 355 bicyclist crashes in 2020. Pedestrian safety is also a major concern. The Transportation Sales Tax would improve sidewalks, crosswalks, add protected bike lanes and other facilities that benefit those whose mode of transportation is by bicycle or walking.
How will the Transportation Sales Tax benefit the environment?
Transportation makes up 36% of Orange County's carbon emissions. According to the American Public Transportation Association, increasing public transportation improves air quality, lowers vehicle emissions, and reduces noise pollution. Mass transit also takes traffic off the roadways.
I would like to take SunRail, but the current schedule doesn’t work for me. How will the Transportation Sales Tax change that?
The Transportation Sales Tax presents an opportunity to expand SunRail service on weekends, run the trains later and more often, and expand commuter rail service to and from the Orlando International Airport.
I do not take the bus. How is this going to benefit me?
A robust transit system that runs frequently, directly, and on time, takes vehicles off the roads when drivers opt to become riders, which helps traffic flow better and benefits the environment. The Transportation Sales Tax will put more energy-efficient buses on the road, including electric-powered buses. LYNX buses would run more frequently and take more direct routes, including routes with limited stops. This would increase east-west connectivity in Orange County as well as connectivity to major employment centers and outlying residential areas.
I work from home and rarely commute now. How will the Transportation Sales Tax benefit me?
Working from home does not necessarily mean staying at home all the time. Improving our transportation system means deliveries will get to your home efficiently without delay. The Transportation Sales Tax would provide a transit schedule that meets your needs when you use SunRail or LYNX. It would ease traffic congestion when you use ridesharing services or when you drive occasionally.
Will the Transportation Sales Tax address traffic signal timing?
Yes. There is technology that allows vehicles to get more green lights on main thoroughfares. It’s called Adaptive Signal Technology. The adaptive signals are part of a system that senses the amount of traffic on the road and turns red lights to green as traffic volumes change. This makes traffic move more efficiently.
They collect tolls on certain area highways. Why not use those toll dollars for Orange County transportation needs?
All those roads are operated and maintained by either the Florida Turnpike Enterprise or the Central Florida Expressway Authority. The tolls collected on those facilities go back to each of those agencies for ongoing operations.
Does the Transportation Sales Tax pay for the I-4 project?
No. The I-4 Ultimate project and other I-4 transportation projects are funded and built by the Florida Department of Transportation.
How will the Transportation Tax Initiative make road construction work zones safer?
Safety is the top priority for Orange County, including safe work zones for construction crews and for people who commute along road construction areas. The Transportation Tax Initiative will allow Orange County to deploy additional safety measures as part of the Smart Work Zones initiative by the Federal Highway Administration. Drivers will see more, and improved, message signs that monitor speeds when approaching and driving through construction zones. Orange County will also employ technology that will talk to drivers inside their connected vehicles, alerting them that they are approaching or within a construction zone, to use caution and to slow down.