On the November 2 ballot, Seminole County, Florida voters will be asked to decide on a referendum to provide a ½ cent sales tax for building repairs and technology for the schools. School board chairman Sandy Robinson urges support for the proposal. Grant Maloy, founder of Six 4 Seminole, argues against the tax.
Feature length – 28:59
In the general election on November 2 the voters of Seminole County will be asked to decide to support or reject a proposed ½ cent sales tax to be applied for the next 10 years and used for public schools. The tax would be used for repair and renovation of existing school buildings and to provide improvements in safety and technology. The addition of the ½ cent would be made after the current 1 cent optional sales tax expires in 2011. In Seminole County the current sales tax of 7 cents would then become 6 ½ cents. The revenue generated over the 10 year period is expected to be $26 million per year for a total of $260 million dollars. For the average taxpayer this would amount to approximately $60 per year.
The Seminole County School Board proposed the tax after state funds for capital expenses fell from $26 million in 2006 to $1 million in 2009. Revenue from ad valorum property taxes has also fallen significantly. A study by the school board identified approximately $300 million dollars in critical needs around the district and the board chose to utilize a sales tax rather than raise property taxes to pay for these needs.
The tax revenue will be spent on projects at 36 schools and includes repairs, upgrades, safety improvements and enhanced technology for the classroom. No new schools will be built but renovations will be completed in older buildings. These funds which will be spent in Seminole County to stimulate local business and increase employment. The school board argues these projects are necessary to maintain the unparalleled success the Seminole County schools enjoy now.
A group of citizens led by Grant Maloy have formed a political action committee to fight to defeat the proposed tax. The group, Six 4 Seminole, contends that the tax is unnecessary and detrimental to the economy. With the many new schools already in the district and a declining enrollment, they feel the projects can wait for a better time. They argue that in an economy struggling to recover from recession, it does not make sound economic sense to raise taxes.
For the opponents, the tax represents money that is taken out of the pockets of citizens who should be making the personal decisions on spending that would stimulate the economy.
Voters will have the opportunity to decide between the two positions on the November ballot.
Extended Interview & Pictures
Sandy Robinson and Desta Horner
Extended interview (29:54)
Grant Maloy and Desta Horner
Extended interview (20:48)