In this year’s primary election, voters in Hillsborough County can weigh in on a referendum that would generate about $146 million a year for public schools.
TAMPA, Fla. – There is pressure for a new property tax in Hillsborough County.
In this year’s primary election on Aug. 23, voters in Hillsborough County can decide to back a One-Mil referendum, which would raise about $146 million a year.
The money would be used to increase the salaries of teachers, staff and to expand art, music, physical education and workforce training programs.
According to the school district, this could increase the average teaching salary by $4,000 and the average non-teaching salary by $2,000.
Raising salaries for teachers and staff is crucial, according to Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis.
He said recruiting and retaining faculty has been more difficult in recent years than ever before.
“If it doesn’t come through openly, you’ll see the growing vacancies in this district will be relevant and it will have a really negative impact on our kids,” Davis said.
According to the school district, teaching vacancies have increased 220% in the six years and 44% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With 700 vacancies currently reported, Davis said schools in Hillsborough County are struggling to compete with surrounding counties like Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee, which already have such voter-approved funding in place.
“Our hands are tied when we talk about looking at pay scales and salaries for teachers, support staff and leaders. We’re in no position to compete,” he said.
The proposed tax would require an additional dollar for every $1,000 of real estate value for people who live in Hillsborough County.
In other words, if a home is valued at $200,000, the homeowner pays $200 after Florida’s property exemption is applied.
According to the school district, public schools in Hillsborough County currently have more than 220,000 students and 23,815 employees, including 14,181 teachers.
Davis said he tried to appeal to voters who don’t have children in the public school system.
“We talk about education being the foundation. It’s what brings in newcomers, it brings in families, it brings in new societies and businesses,” he said. “So whether or not you have a pupil in the education system, that is the basis of everything and everything is also directly related to security.
“It’s important to be able to create dynamic opportunities whether kids are ready to go into the military, into the workforce, or into post-secondary education,” Davis said.
Further meetings are scheduled to discuss the referendum on the following dates:
- Wednesday, July 13, 6-7:30 p.m. at Armwood High School
- Wednesday, July 20 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Lycée Sumner
- Monday July 25 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Lycée Alonso
- Wednesday, July 27, 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Riverview High School
- Monday, August 1, noon, virtual
- Monday, August 1, 5:30 p.m., virtual
- Tuesday, August 2 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Gaither High School