Editor, The Beacon:
Readers, have you noticed a lot of letters mentioning ECHO and Volusia Forever? If you like Volusia County, vote YES. Why?
Please understand that the real wealth of Volusia County is due in large part to ECHO, matching-grant programs, and “Volusia Forever,” for lands acquired and thus saved.
ECHO stands for Environment, Culture, History, Outdoors. The ECHO Advisory Committee is made up of citizens who review applications for matching grants in these areas.
The grants can be for hundreds of dollars or, in the case of cities, millions. Examples are our trails, parks and ballfields, the refurbished Athens Theatre, the Marine Discovery Center, Lillian Place, and even the Robert Strickland Shooting Range.
Volusia Forever complements ECHO. Volusia Forever purchases conservation land, the kind of land that will provide water-recharge wells for the future. These lands also connect wildlife corridors and provide outdoor recreation. All ECHO and Volusia Forever projects require public admittance.
These two initiatives were approved 20 years ago and will expire in 2021 if not reauthorized by voters. Each is paid for by 20 cents per $1,000 of your property value. After my homestead exemption, I pay $35 for ECHO and $30 for Volusia Forever a year, or the cost of one meal out.
The bad news is, if ECHO and Volusia Forever are not renewed, funds for upkeep of what we have and great new projects will be stifled and possibly snuffed.
Do the right thing — vote “yes.”