ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Controversy surrounds a proposal in Orange County to create an independent council and taxing district that would collect property taxes to fund youth programs. The agency would be governed by a board of directors, comprised of appointees.
The funding would come from a half-mill property tax increase, which would raise an estimated $58 million annually. If approved by the Orange County Commission, voters would have the final say on the issue.
Advocates insist this is greatly needed, as it would help under-served children in Orange County. Meanwhile, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs says that, while she supports funding children's programs, she is not in favor of this model.
"The approach that they're using would create a taxing district that's not directly elected by the citizens of Orange County, and that means that that taxing district is a lot less accountable," she says.
Former state lawmaker Dick Batchelor is pushing hard for this new independent agency.
"No commissioner can say that we don't have unmet needs for children in this community," says Batchelor. "Then the question is: let the voters vote on it!"
Mayor Jacobs says she's open to doing an assessment of the needs for additional children's programs and then approving any needed funding, through normal procedures by the county commission, and not through an independent council.