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Now browsing: Hometown News > Opinion > Volusia County

Letters to the editor
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Posted: 2014 Mar 21 - 06:16

Chamber supports extending half-cent sales tax for schools

The Daytona Regional Chamber has endorsed extending the half-cent sales tax for Volusia County Schools. At the same time, it wants the Citizens Oversight Committee to make sure funds are spent according to plan.

Chamber Chairman Jim Rose said, "Providing a quality education benefits not only our students but also our local businesses. Enticing new manufacturers is competitive and Volusia has to have a first rate school system in order to enhance our job base. A stable means of funding will help keep Volusia competitive."

The half-cent, approved by voters in 2001, has generated more than $382 million towards the construction of eight new schools, full replacements for 10 others, renovations/additions at 14 more and playground equipment at all elementary schools; a 92 percent rate of accomplishment.

A citizens' oversight committee has monitored the spending of sales tax proceeds to assure planned projects were completed. A 15-year extension would raise an estimated $480 million to improve security, upgrade technology, restore aging schools and maintain the facilities constructed under the current program.

Security enhancements include fencing to limit campus entry to a single point; cameras; impact resistant treatments for windows; electronic locks; panic buttons; and a ridership verification and accountability system for student pickups and departures on school buses. Technology upgrades include hardware for the high school academies and in classrooms throughout the district. There are 31,000 computers in Volusia's schools and 40 percent of them are obsolete or soon-to-be obsolete. Replacements for some of the county's older elementary schools include Pierson, Chisholm in New Smyrna Beach, George Marks in Deland, and Tomoka in Ormond Beach as well as Deltona Middle. Total cost is estimated at $414 million, leaving $66 million for inflation and contingencies.

The fact about 35 percent of the sales tax revenue would be paid by non-residents was a strong motive for the chamber's support.

The proposed sales tax extension was thoroughly reviewed by the Citizen's Capital Needs Committee made up of some 30 business and community leaders, along with parents and higher education representatives. After reviewing the proposal, the committee recommended a list of projects that was adopted by the Volusia County School Board.

After surveying its membership, of which 150 responded,74 percent indicated they were likely to or definitely in support of the sales tax extension and reviewing the findings of the Citizens' Capital Needs Committee, the chamber Board of Directors endorsed the sales tax extension by a vote of 26-3.

Jim Cameron, Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, Senior Vice President, Government Relations

FPL is like the IRS

If they do not like you, they penalize you for not playing the game their way. The FPL "smart meter" program is the case in point.

About 36,000 customers (your fellow Floridians) have opted-out and told FPL ,"I do not want your smart meter." They have

done so respectfully, for many personal reasons. Two of the main reasons: invasion of privacy issues, and health and safety


FPL is going to charge each of us 36,000 customers a one time $95 fee to not get a smart meter: that is $3.42 million. Then they

will charge each customer $13 per month for the service of the "non-smart" meter: that is $468,000 per month ($5.616 million per year). This is a "it costs us that much" rip-off of your fellow Floridians.

Please help us stop this FPL forced raid on your thoughtful, concerned

fellow Floridians. If you have not yet done so, please research "smart

meters" and their potential abuse and consider getting a non-smart meter for your home and family.

John T. Ryan, Ormond Beach

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