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Orange County to count ballots for tax increase

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

To hear Tico Perez tell it, the home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida and Sea World is bursting at the seams. Orange County has crowded schools, crowded roads and growth with no end in sight, he says.

An increase in the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent could loosen the financial belt on the county and give it some breathing room, said Perez, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Orlando.

But opponents of the tax say wiser spending is the key.

There is no need, said Bob Bomia, who is leading the opposition against the tax increase. Orange County misspends its money by making unnecessary expenditures, such as the $18,500 purchase of a 600-pound frog sculpture.

During the past three weeks, Orange County voters have cast their ballots to decide who is right in Florida's largest mail-in election ever.

Ballots will be counted Tuesday. If it passes, the tax increase would raise $2.2-billion over the next decade for schools, roads and infrastructure projects for one of the nation's fastest-growing regions.