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Feb. 9, 2018 - Media event: See the helicopter for Marion County Sheriff's Office purchased with voter-approved penny sales tax

Photos, video and interviews available

Post Date:02/09/2018 4:52 PM

Immediate release
Feb. 9, 2017
Media contact:
Nick Zoller, Public Relations Director
Office: 352-438-2310 ▪ Cell: 352-615-5994

Media event: See the helicopter for Marion County Sheriff’s Office purchased with voter-approved penny sales tax
Photos, video and interviews available
Who: The Marion County Board of County Commissioners (MCBCC) and Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).

What: Media event providing an opportunity to see the helicopter first-hand and conduct interviews with Sheriff Billy Woods, members of the MCSO aviation team and county commissioners.

When: 2 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

Where: McPherson Field, 601 SE 25th Ave., Ocala (The field is located next to the Board of County Commissioners auditorium).

Why: It’s just one cent out of nearly every dollar spent in Marion County, but the funds collected through the county’s penny sales tax have already purchased important equipment for first responders and improved roadways across the county. 

One of the largest and most recent penny sales tax initiatives has arrived at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and has hit the sky to assist in public safety efforts. It’s a 2006 Bell 407 helicopter with capabilities far surpassing MCSO’s previous helicopters which were nearly 50 years old. The new helicopter has the capability to rescue people from inaccessible areas with a rescue hoist, deliver 180 gallons of water to fight wildfires, and operate a sophisticated infrared camera system to help locate missing/lost persons or assist deputies on the ground with law enforcement operations. In addition, this unit can hold more people; with a full tank of gas it can accommodate four to five people instead of the two the previous units held.

The cost for the fully-equipped helicopter was $3.35 million, and about $2.35 million was covered by the sales tax funds.

“In addition to the helicopter, the penny sales tax is the reason we have been able to purchase these new ambulances, fire trucks, patrol cars, and radios for first responders,” said County Commission Chairman Kathy Bryant. “We’ve also rehabilitated several roadways and started the process to build new ones. And it’s not just Marion County residents who are contributing; we estimate visitors pay about 30 percent of the tax, helping to fund the infrastructure and services they use while staying in or passing through the county.”  

Since this voter-approved penny sales tax launched in January 2017, $34,129,596 has been collected. The four-year tax is applied to most purchases (some items, such as groceries, are exempt), and funds only public safety and transportation infrastructure and equipment, not salaries or recurring costs. Find updates and photos of the penny sales tax projects at


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