Not as sexy as the races for president or mayor, but downtown tax also on ballot  

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    While most local voters today are focused on the presidential election and the race for mayor-president, Downtown Development District Executive Director Davis Rhorer has a much smaller—though, from his perspective, no less consequential—ballot measure on his mind: a renewal of the 10-mil property tax that keeps the agency afloat.

    Residents who live within the boundaries of downtown will vote today on renewing the five-year millage, which generates around $685,000 a year for the DDD.

    Though voters have overwhelmingly voted to renew the tax in previous elections, Rhorer is leaving nothing to chance. The DDD has produced a promotional video touting progress over the past five years downtown, and Rhorer has spent the past few days canvassing the area and encouraging downtown dwellers to vote.

    “When viewing the new hotels, residential developments and green spaces, it has been an aggressive five years of downtown development,” he says. “The next five years promises to be even more exciting.”

    The video shows three hotels and seven multifamily complexes that have opened downtown since 2015, as well as four residential developments currently underway. It also depicts several ongoing public and quasi-public projects like the Water Campus, Central Green, Downtown Greenway and River Road improvements.

    Revenues generated by the millage are not used to directly fund such downtown projects, Rhorer says, but provide seed money that can be used to leverage investment dollars and help secure grant funding.

    “Our budget is small compared to other DDDs so we try to create the environment for either the public, nonprofit or private sector to develop here,” he says. “That has worked extremely well.”

    The DDD has ambitious projects planned for the next five years, including a master planning effort for downtown east that could lead to redevelopment along Florida Boulevard. The agency also is partnering in the development of a sports complex at Memorial Stadium, funded with FEMA dollars, that will include three new basketball courts and a multiuse path.

    Additionally, the DDD is planning improvements under Interstate 110 and a 1.5-mile extension of the River Road multiuse path.

    “People want bicycle paths,” Rhorer says. “They want green spaces and it’s coming together. It is coming together via our master plan.”