Sales Tax Initiative

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The sales tax referendum was approved on March 15, 2016, with 55 percent of voters agreeing to implement the initiative that will help fund public safety and transportation infrastructure.

Click here to view the adopted ordinance.

- Click here to view the agenda item and backup information for the sales tax project schedule approved by the commission on April 19. This will serve as a blueprint for the next five years.

- Click here to watch the April 19 commission meeting.

  More information on the 1% Sales Tax  
 2916 FINAL SALES TAX INFORMATIONAL PACKET_Page_01  - Click here to view general information (pdf).

Sales Tax Initiative Marion County




Q: What's the county's current financial picture?
The commission held the millage rate flat throughout years of declining property values to prevent an increase in residents' property taxes during the recession. Between FY07-08 and FY13-14, property values declined by 38 percent. Property tax revenue, based on these values, is an important part of what funds county services, including public safety. The county implemented a series of budget cuts to accommodate the reduced revenue from low property values. The county is faced with a backlog of projects (e.g., road maintenance and expansion for additional capacity) and equipment needs (e.g., public safety gear and vehicles). These investments were postponed to keep property taxes low during our community’s economic downturn, and focus remained on the most pressing priorities.

Q: How would the sales tax funding be split between public safety and roads?
A: The list of sales tax projects comes out to about a 60/40 split. This is strictly based on the proposals the agencies themselves submitted, and not a County Commission-determined split. Each year, the Commission will address priorities based on critical need with direct input from each participating agency. For example, one year the county might need to purchase more patrol vehicles than ambulances and the next year more might be needed to construct a bigger transportation project than gear.

Q: Does this mean that roads might get 90% and public safety 10% one year?
A: No. Although the ratio may vary slightly year to year, once all the funds are spent at the end of the four years, public safety would have received about 40% and roads about 60% of the funding. Again, this is determined by the costs of the specified projects brought forward by the agencies themselves.

Q: Does that ratio mean roads are more important than public safety?
A: Of course not. However, road construction is very expensive, and you can purchase a lot of public safety equipment for the cost of a short length of road. As a cost example, the price tag for one properly-equipped fire engine is nearly $500,000. Basic construction for just one mile of four-lane divided highway is approximately $3.5 million. However, rehabilitation projects are estimated to cost $400,000 per mile. This, of course, does not include maintenance costs. 

Q: Who would pay the sales tax?
A: Property owners, renters, visitors/tourists and people just passing through. All of these people use our roads and public safety services; the sales tax would mean they would help pay for them, too. It’s estimated 30% of the sales tax would be paid by visitors, lessening the burden on residents.

1% Sales Tax: What would it fund?

Fire Rescue
Air pack replacements, Ambulance replacements, Brush/grass fire unit replacements, Fire engine replacements, Ladder truck replacements, Rolling Greens fire station, Water tanker replacements. Details.
Public Safety Communications
800 MHz radio replacement, Additional tower, Back-up Communications Center buildout at Ocala Police Department. Details.
Sheriff's Office
Aircraft, Computer equipment and server to store law enforcement records, Evidence building construction, Mobile command unit, SWAT vests, Vehicles. Details.
Capacity projects, Pavement rehabilitation projects. Details.

Marion County Fire RescueFire Rescue projects

Air packs: Enable firefighters to breathe while in dangerous environments.
Bunker gear: For proper crew safety.
Computers/technology: For crews to use on-scene, as well as for storing data to enhance response.
Fire station
Rolling Greens Fire Station: A new building is needed due to high volume of calls in Southeast Marion County. This would also give crews a permanent home.
Ambulances: For emergency medical services response. (About 80% of all MCFR calls are EMS-related.)
Fire engines: For fire suppression, vehicle accidents and other calls.
Ladder trucks: For large square-footage or multi-story buildings, and high-angle rescues. Also carry specialized ladders for aboveground work.
Water tankers: For transportation of additional water to larger fire scenes or fires far from hydrants.

Public Safety CommunicationsPublic Safety Communications projects

800 MHz radio replacement
The 800 MHz system is the radio system that is used by all Public Safety personnel to communicate important emergency response information. The end user radios (handheld and mobile) currently in use by local first responder agencies are no longer being produced and are ending their support life.
Why: The upgrade to the new radios will provide citizens with the assurance that the public safety professionals responding to their needs will be able to communicate.
Additional tower site; South end
Towers are structures that hold telecommunications antennas, which in turn facilitate transfer of communication from one device to another.
Why: The proposed tower would increase the radio system coverage in the southern portion of Marion County.
Back-up Communications center buildout
At present, there is no back-up location large enough to handle the amount of employees necessary to run the Marion County Communications Center in the event an evacuation would be needed. Currently, the Communications Center serves as the back-up to Ocala Police Department, as it has space for that agency should its communications dispatch staff need to leave their building. However, there is space at the Ocala Police Department next to its communications center that could be built out to accommodate space needs.
Why: A back-up location for the communications center would ensure continuity of emergency dispatch should an evacuation of the primary location be required.

Marion County SheriffSheriff's Office projects

A manned, fixed-wing aircraft with imaging equipment would respond to emergency calls and conduct routine security flights within the community. The aircraft would be used for search of missing persons or to assist patrol in pursuits of fleeing suspects. An upgrade of camera platform/moving maps, GPS systems and thermal imaging is needed to improve the collection of evidence and surveillance from the air.
Computers and servers
An upgrade of the agency’s computer system is needed to make communication, both internally and externally, more efficient. Also, an overall upgrade of the internal phone system is needed along with updated desk and laptop computers.
Evidence building construction
A new evidence building is needed for universal housing of all the evidence departments. An increase in property storage, climate-controlled work stations and improved work space for a healthier and safer work environment is needed.
Mobile command unit
The MCSO mobile command unit is also outdated and is in need of replacement for activation operation purposes.
SWAT and tactical bulletproof vests
SWAT and tactical bullet-proof vests and equipment, which carry an expiration date, must be replaced to keep up with industry standards.
Vehicle replacements
Law enforcement personnel rely on patrol vehicles to respond to emergency and non-emergency calls for service. Law enforcement vehicles are on the road for 12 hours at a time and accumulate a high amount of mileage each year.

Marion County transportationTransportation - Capacity projects

NW 49th/35th St. with I-75 Interchange


New 4-lane with interchange at I-75, from NW 44th Ave. to Ocala city limits. Why: Construct a new four-lane roadway including an interchange at I-75 which will enhance the opportunity for economic development in the general area leading to jobs.  
SW 49th Ave./SW 40th Ave.
New 4-lane from SW 95th St. to SW 42nd St.
Why: A three phased project that will boost the traffic-carrying capacity in the area west of I-75 and south of SW 42nd St. all the way to SW 95th St.
CR484 Interchange at I-75
New lanes and ramps from SW 20th Ave. Rd. to CR 475A.
Why: Provides measures such as additional turn lanes, signal modifications and enhanced access management to improve the flow of traffic through this interchange.
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Marion County transportation

Transportation - Pavement rehabilitation projects

CR 464B
From the Levy County line to U.S. Highway 27.
CR 326
From the Levy County line to U.S. Highway 27.
CR 475B
From CR 475A to CR 475.
Marion Oaks Blvd.
From the west end of Marion Oaks Manor to the east end of Marion Oaks Manor.
CR 25A (Gainesville Rd.)
From CR 329 to U.S. Highway 441.
S. Highway 314A
From SE 95th St. Rd. to SE 24th St. Rd.
SE 182nd Ave. Rd.
From CR 42 to SE 95th St. Rd.
CR 320
From I-75 to U.S. Highway 441.
Emerald Rd.
From Maricamp Road southwest to Oak Rd.
CR 316
From CR 315 to west of Eureka Bridge.
CR 315
From CR 316 to CR 318.
CR 42
From U.S. Highway 441 to CR 25.

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