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Paid political advertisement, paid for by Duval Citizens for Better Schools, PC,
Charles Wilson, Treasurer, 3030 Hartley Road, Suite 120, Jacksonville, FL 32257
Your questions about the half-penny referendum to build safe, secure and modern schools deserve answers. That’s the only way to make an informed decision; the one way you can be sure your “Yes” vote on Tuesday, November 3rd, will make a difference for our children. To get answers to the Frequently Asked Questions, just click on the questions below.
There are three main reasons.
Since 2008, the state has cut funding for school maintenance by 24%. The district now has a maintenance shortfall of $243 million. Without the half-penny, that shortfall is expected to grow to $1 billion in five years. Many schools have low student enrollment and need to be combined with students of other schools to improve efficiency and increase teaching resources. At the same time, schools in high growth areas of the county need new schools to relieve overcrowding and reduce the number of portables.
The half-penny is estimated to raise, on average, approximately $117 million per year over 15 years. The money will fund projects for new construction, reconstruction, improvements to existing school facilities, removing portables, safety, and security improvements, and technology upgrades.
Everyone who buys taxable goods in Duval County will pay, including non-residents who are passing through, come here to shop, and people vacationing at the beach.
A family of four with an income of $55,832 (the median income in Duval County) will pay an estimated $64 per year. Necessities like groceries, medicine, and gasoline will not be taxed. For large purchases, such as a car, only the first $5,000 is subject to the half-penny, meaning the maximum amount paid on any single purchase is $25. Currently, voters in 62 of 67 counties in Florida have passed a local optional sales tax.
No. The proposal voters are being asked to approve for 15 years will start on January 1, 2021, and sunset on December 31, 2036. Only if voters approve it again in another election will it continue.
The School Board will appoint a 24 member, independent, oversite committee made up of county residents who will have complete access to all the records necessary to ensure that the money is being spent as promised.
The half-penny provides a sustainable funding source that is created by a broad base of taxpayers beyond our local property owners.
The school district receives some money from the lottery program to provide funding to meet the constitutional requirements of the class size amendment, school recognition, and school improvement programs. The amount of money the district receives from the lottery is small in proportion to the total budget. The lottery money received from the state is enough to run our schools for approximately one day.
The district has not been wasting money. Duval County Public Schools, in accordance with Florida statutes, was successfully audited in 2019 by the Office of Program Policy Analysis (OPPAGA) and Government Accountability) in anticipation of a referendum to ask voters to approve a half-penny for school infrastructure. Oversight, accountability, and evidence of our sound financial management includes: Consistent, clean audit reports from both state and federal agencies.
There are several advantages.
The school system has stretched money further than almost all other counties in Florida. Sixty-two of Florida’s 67 counties collect some form of local sales surtax. Duval County is one of the last counties to ask voters for approval.
Without the half-penny, the school district will have to increase borrowing diverting even more money away from the classroom. On the money already borrowed, the school district currently spends approximately $25 million each year for debt service; that equals $68,493 per day. These are real dollars going to a bank, rather than into our classrooms. Failure to get new funding will mean increasing the amount spent on debt service, thus reducing the money available for maintenance at existing schools. Our students will face a future in dilapidated buildings, short on technology, safety, and security.
There are five very important reasons to vote for the half-penny.