Orange County mayor won’t support extending tourist tax agreement

Taxes would fund part of Universal Orlando road extension


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – “After further review,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he would vote against the current agreement with Universal Orlando to extend Kirkman Road connecting the theme park company’s future attraction, Epic Universe.

The project would route six lanes of traffic from Carrier Road to Universal Boulevard, where Universal’s third Orlando-area theme park is slated to open in 2023.

That transportation construction would be paid for, in part, using $125 million in taxes collected as part of the district that includes International Drive, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Taxes from that district go toward road improvements in the tourist district instead of items for Orange County residents, such as police departments and schools.

The Universal Orlando agreement with the county would extend the taxing district to 2040, continuing to route funds into the tourist district. That tax agreement was set to expire in 2028 but the Universal extension deal would extend that to 2040, reports the Sentinel.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners was set to vote on the deal Tuesday.

Demings said in a statement Friday he won’t support the agreement as is and asked the commission to re-examine the end date on the taxing district.

“In May of this year, the I-Drive Community Redevelopment Advisory (CRA) Committee recommended extending the sunset date of the CRA to January 2040. County staff prepared a resolution consistent with the recommendation," Demings said. “However, after further review and consideration, I’m not prepared to support the extension of the sunset date at this time. I’ve directed staff to study the need to extend the date as well as the ability to use CRA funds for additional purposes.”

Officials with the mayor’s office said Demings does support the road extension itself and that it is expected to pass.

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