Commissioners Delay Yankee Stadium Referendum
MARION COUNTY- What was expected to be a day of decision, turned out to be a day of delay. Marion County commissioners held a public hearing about a half- cent sales tax proposal that would fund a minor league baseball stadium in Ocala. The board agreed to put off a decision on a half-cent sales tax increase that would help bring the Tampa Yankees to Ocala.
"We are trying to do this without raising taxes," said Marion County Chair Carl Zalak.
Before the public hearing started, Chair Carl Zalak announced that for the next three weeks, the board, the city of Ocala and the Ocala- Marion County Chamber Economic Partnership will work together to come up with other plans to finance the stadium.
"There are different ways of bond financing. There are different ways of partnership. There are different ways for the city and the county to participate. We want to make sure those options are fully vetted before we put a sales tax on the table,” said Chair Zalak.
All of the alternatives will be presented at the January 7, 2014 public hearing.
Some residents praised the board for the delay.
"There is no rush to do this. Mr. Bruno said if you don't do it then we move down the road and basically threatened you. He said there is no plan b. Yes there is a plan b. Plan b is to stay in Tampa,” said a Marion County resident.
Other residents are worried the Yankees might back out.
"Do we trust that they are going to wait? That’s a question that I don't think has been answered. So if you putting this on hold, I think that question needs to be answered first,” said Allison Campbell who is a resident.
According to Chair Zalak, the Yankees representatives are aware of the holdup. Tuesday’s decision to continue the public hearing to January 7, 2014 means the Yankee Stadium referendum will not be on a ballot in March.
"Probably the latest date the elections office would be agreeable to would probably be April 8, 2014," said Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox.
If the board votes to put the Yankee stadium referendum on an April 8, 2014 ballot, Wilcox said it's likely it will be an all-mail election instead of a traditional one.
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