KISSIMMEEE, Fla. — Osceola County will open early voting locations Monday for a countywide referendum to raise the sales tax to help with growth needs.

The referendum would raise the sales tax from 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent for three decades. The county says it would raise $67 million each year if it's approved, which would go toward transportation costs, including to SunRail.

"Right now, Osceola County has more than a $1.1 billion backlog of road construction needs," Osceola County says online. "More than $250 million is needed to fill in existing sidewalk gaps, and $445 million is needed to build new recreational bicycle and pedestrian trails for residents. The money would pay for roads and bridges, expand public transit options, fix potholes, enhance bus services, relieve rush hour bottlenecks, improve intersections, and make walking and biking safer."

Prospective voters we spoke to were split on the increase.

"My vote will be 'no,'" said Karen Dean. "One penny too many."

"Sidewalks and especially roads, they need to be fixed," said Jennifer Wagner. "They all need to be fixed."

The full proposal is on the Osceola County website.

Early voting will take place from Monday to Sunday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the following locations:

  • Supervisor of elections office
    2509 Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee
  • West Osceola Brach Library (Celebration)
    305 Campus Street, Celebration
  • Robert Guevara Center
    501 Florida Parkway, Kissimmee
  • St. Cloud Civic Center
    3001 17th Street, St. Cloud
  • Hart Memorial Central Library
    211 E. Dakin Avenue, Kissimmee
  • The Gym and Aquatic Center
    625 Country Club Drive, Poinciana
  • Osceola Campus-Valencia College
    1800 Denn John Lane, Kissimmee

The general election is May 21. To check if you are eligible to vote, go to the Osceola County website.