Monday, April 16, 2007

Chamber Alliance Meeting

This morning there was a meeting of the board of directors of all seven Volusia County chambers:
1. Daytona Beach/Halifax area Chamber of Commerce
2. Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce
3. Holly Hill Chamber of Commerce
4. South Daytona/Port Orange Chamber of Commerce
5. South East Volusia Chamber of Commerce
6. DeLand Chamber of Commerce
7. West Volusia Chamber of Commerce

The meeting was very interesting and included about 70 people from the various boards.

Frank Bruno, Chair of the Volusia County Council, spoke about two topics. The first is the rail system. His opinion is that with the impending tax reform there won't be money in the budget to commit to $3.5 million per year for 30 years. Reaction in the room was mixed. Several people felt that it could increase home values as more people from Orlando commute into West Volusia. An argument was raised that it won't effect the East side of the county but they would still share in the cost. Further, the current agreement includes a number of counties plus state and federal funding. This type of arrangement will not be offered again.

In addition, he discussed tax reform. He pointed out that roughly half of all property tax goes to the school system. He would like to fund the school system with a 1% sales tax and remove them from the property tax budget thereby cutting everyone's property tax in half. His point being that 1% is small enough not to have a substantial impact on tourism or other spending but could raise substantial money. Resistance was raised as sales taxes are not stable from year to year and that could effect planning for the school board.

My opinion is that it may be a good idea but we would still have the disparity that is created by the Save our Homes (SOH) amendment. I do consider it a very positive mix to the discussion that has been taking place. One consideration may be to repeal SOH, apply the 60% rule that Morgan Gilreath mentioned (in a previous post) and implement a 1% sales tax to offset the overall property taxes. General millage rates could be set in advance and then reduced based on available property tax income. I'm curious about opinions.

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