The Ocala/Marion Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP) will spend $80,000 in their efforts to endorse the renewal of the Marion County Penny Sales Tax before it sunsets in 2020.

CEP President Kevin Sheilley made the remarks during the CEP’s annual presentation encore held at the College of Central Florida’s Dassance Fine Arts Center.

“Even though we were told repeatedly by all the experts that we had zero chance and that there was no way that voters in Marion County would approve a one-cent sales tax increase, 55 percent of the voters disagreed,” said Sheilley, of the approval in 2016.

After stating that the CEP endorses the new initiative to continue the tax, Sheilley indicated that the group would “be leading the effort again” for approval.

“We’re going to go raise $80,000 to tell the story about why this is important,” said Sheilley. He added that at least 30 percent of all of the revenue generated from the tax came from people not living in the Ocala Metro area.

“It’s from people that are passing through, who are tourists. It’s people who live outside our area and commute to this area every day,” said Sheilley.

The ordinance for the Penny Sales Tax, which has supported millions of dollars in infrastructure and first responder equipment improvements over the past few years, will come before the Marion County Commission later this month.

Last May, Marion County Commission Chair Michelle Stone provided an update on the impact of the Penny Sales Tax to business leaders.

“It may be only one penny out of almost every dollar spent in the county, but the funds collected through the Marion County’s Penny sales tax rolled out new patrol cars for sheriff’s deputies and provided compressed air breathing systems for firefighters,” said Stone. At the time, Stone indicated that crews had created and resurfaced 26.5 miles of roadway, representing 65,000 tons of paving materials.

Marion County Commissioners will consider the ordinance to extend the one-cent sales tax at their upcoming meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at the Marion County-McPherson Governmental Complex, located at 601 SE 25th Avenue.