Marion County commissioners want more time to mull over stadium - FOX 35 News Orlando

Marion County commissioners want more time to mull over baseball stadium

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OCALA, Fla. (WOGX FOX 51) -

Marion County taxpayers are demanding more answers from their commissioners when it comes to possibly paying to build a baseball stadium for the New York Yankees' minor league team.

The team currently plays in Tampa but agreed to come to Ocala if a new stadium is constructed.  A public hearing was held on Tuesday morning to address two ordinances: one deals with a special election in March asking for voters to accept a half-cent sales tax; the other deals with having the special election by mail, instead of the traditional way.

If a referendum passes, it will generate $60 million to partially fund the stadium. The total project costs $82 million.

"I can guarantee you that thing will never pass if they put a half-cent sales tax on the ballot. It will never pass," said a Marion County resident Norman Cates.

If that happens, the board is coming up with alternatives to help pay for the project.

"There's different bond financing, different ways of partnership, there are different ways the city and county can participate," said the Marion County Commission Chairman Carl Zalak.

Nothing is set in stone.  Commissioners voted to have more time to talk about those alternative solutions.

"The timeline is a big thing, but we're talking about a few weeks," said Zalak.

That didn't sit well with some voters.

"I believe, in my opinion, they had an opportunity to clearly review some of the options or work on some of the options prior to today's meeting," said Marion County resident Kathy Jutkins, who supports the stadium but is not happy that the board postponed a vote.

Others are happy the board is taking their time to figure out another way to fund the stadium, other than on the taxpayers' dime.

"I think it's a good idea, to give more people a chance to learn more about it," said Cates.

But many questions remain, such as who is going to pay for the stadium and when will taxpayers weigh in on that decision.

The next public hearing will be at the County Commission in Ocala on January 7, at 10 a.m. The board said that, with the postponement, the earliest time a tax referendum could be held would be in April.

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