The MetroPlan Orlando Board’s 2017 legislative agenda had one contentious item the board discussed at Wednesday’s meeting, relating to legislation on a 1-cent sales tax to go towards fixing infrastructure.
Under the proposed legislature, charter counties, the largest in their region, would have the option to put it to a vote in the largest city in the area.
However, concerns were raised by Mayor Teresa Jacobs and new MetroPlan chair Bob Dallari, both of whom wondered what the logistics would be if city voters were being asked about a tax for county roads that they wouldn’t be using.
“I don’t want only something that would benefit the largest city in an area,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to prevent the county from going forward, but I also wouldn’t want to stop Orlando from moving forward.”
She said she also wanted to prevent governmental entities from layering on more than one one-cent tax at a time.
“If it’s a county or a state road that needs fixing, and it’s not their road, why would they want to spend money on it?” Dallari asked.
He added that most people, by and large, do not know they live in unincorporated Orange County, so that point, the designation between city and county, would have to be made more apparent.
Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine said it was likely a moot point with the people in the Senate and House, anyway.
“This has a snowball’s chance of passing,” he said. “With the House and Speaker we have, anything that says taxes, they look at it strongly.”
Still, though, the board marked it as something to monitor as it goes forward.
Things they consider “top priorities” include funding to increase bicycle safety awareness, implement “quiet zones” along the SunRail corridor, funding for SunRail’s Phase II and funding for the expansion of wrong-way driving detection equipment on limited access facilities that are currently not monitored.
A quiet zone, according to MetroPlan Executive Director Harold Barley, is an initiative to fix up any problems in the road or around a train station so that the train conductor won’t have to sound the horn to alert everyone nearby.
“If the train horn doesn’t go off as much, it can create a nicer atmosphere,” he said.
They’ll be supporting legislation that strengthens legislation to make distracted driving a primary offense and implements rental car surcharges to go towards regional transportation projects.
On cracking down on distracted driving, Barley said it was becoming a serious problem on Florida roads.
“Safety has always been a priority on the board,” he said. “The increase in crashes has now surpassed the population growth here, and the miles that vehicles travel. What’s happening here? We find that a good deal of these cases come from distracted driving, and law enforcement can’t deal with it unless the penalty is more severe.”
They want to monitor anything that could rescind the legislation that authorized red light cameras, which have become controversial, and allow drone technology for traffic incident management and emergency responses.