The Marion County Commission Chairman praised the passing of the Penny Sales Tax during his State of the County address on Wednesday morning.
Marion County Board of County Commission Chairman Jeff Gold made the remarks during a meeting of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership.
“We love our ‘Penny Sales Tax’ and obviously the voters do, too,” said Gold, referring to the 70 percent approval vote the referendum garnered on November’s ballot.
Gold indicated that in the coming term, the county hopes to produce 24 road projects in addition to the 26 they have completed in the previous four years. Those 26 projects represented over 75 miles of roadways that have been constructed or rehabilitated since the surtax was approved.
“With this penny sales tax, we’re looking at 22 new or refurbished firefighting vehicles by 2024,” added Gold. The county also hopes to add 32 new ambulances, as well as new critical care units that are specially trained to deal with extreme circumstances.
Gold also pointed to the Marion County jail as being in desperate need of renovations, dismissing the idea of building a new jail as too expensive.
“The amount of money to replace the jail, which we’re getting close to, is more than we could ever imagine trying to spend,” said Gold, of the renovations the county will make using the surtax. “We don’t have the money to [build a new jail.] We need to make sure we keep up with the repairs.”