A sales tax initiative approved by the Marion County Board of County Commissioners has many residents holding their wallets a little tighter.
Early Tuesday, Marion County Commissioners unanimously voted to have a 1-percent public safety and transportation sales tax referendum appear on the March 2016 Presidential Preference Primary ballot.
“The people of Marion County should be free to choose the services of which they pay and this is exactly what this does. This allows people the right to choose,” said Commissioner David Moore at the meeting.
If a majority of voters approve the referendum, it will raise the current sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. The tax would last for four years beginning Jan. 1, 2017.
This sales tax initiative sets out to improve public safety and transportation infrastructures within the towns of McIntosh and Reddick and the cities of Ocala, Belleview and Dunnellon.
Commissioner Moore said the transportation infrastructures will help develop the economy by retaining existing companies and bringing new companies into the county. He said companies will need safer roads to build their infrastructures, which will create more jobs and business.
A few residents oppose the sales tax increase because annual household incomes aren’t increasing, and they already have to pinch pennies to get by.
“Any taxes affect somebody, and when taxes are applied it limits your income,” said 91-year-old David Baldwin, “and anything that limits my income is detrimental to me.”
Baldwin is living on a fixed income and doesn’t think he will have the money to spare for a 1-percent tax increase. According to the most recent census report, 18 percent of Marion County’s 339,167 residents live below the poverty line.
Domenic Ferrelli, a resident of Marion County for more than 20 years, thinks the tax increase is unnecessary. He said the projects should be funded by pulling money from other county departments, such as the sheriff’s office.
Ferrelli said the 1-percent increase would be a big jump, especially when residents aren’t getting raises at their jobs.
“They [the board of county commissioners] always raise taxes and claim it’s for our interest, but it’s not going to help us at all,” said Ferrelli.
Ferrelli, Baldwin and other voters of Marion County will decide on Mar. 15, 2016 if the new 1-percent sales tax takes effect.