One year after its narrow defeat, the quarter-cent sales tax referendum has made a ballot comeback. As many of its opponent’s have noted, this referendum’s return may not be a win for democracy— but its failure would come as a critical loss to Orange County. For the sake of schools, infrastructure and economic development programs, voters should take the increase’s almost unnoticeable pain for immediate countywide gains.
The criticism of this referendum is well-founded, considering that it was rejected last year and its opponents — rural voters — don’t have anything else on the ballot this year. Ultimately, these voters still have the right to vote. And the county has reached out to them, adding 11 polling stations to ensure fairness.
If passed, the quarter-cent sales tax would amount to 25 cents for every $100 spent on anything other than gas, groceries or medicine. The tax would draw from tourists and residents alike, generating $2.5 million a year.
In addition to its stated goals, this revenue would fend off property tax increases and actually enlarge the tax base. Orange County can and must vote to help itself this time around.