Hillsborough Commission Puts Tax Renewal on Ballot With School Cutback

TAMPA -- Hillsborough County Commissioners voted to put a shorter-term renewal of a half-cent sales tax on the November ballot, with a smaller share designated for school construction.

The version going to voters will offer a 15-year tax renewal with five percent, rather than 25 percent, going to the Hillsborough school district, as it has been getting since the Community Investment Tax since 1996.

Two commissioners voted no, including Pat Kemp, who insisted schools were underfunded and would not be able to keep up with growth. The school district is putting its own referendum on the ballot to raise property taxes, with the money intended to go to raises for teachers.

Speakers during public comment went either way, with some calling for the share for schools to remain at 25 percent and others calling for the school district to be zeroed out, saying they haven't been good stewards with tax dollars.

Superintendent Van Ayres expressed his disappointment with the result in this statement: “We thank the BOCC for at least keeping schools as part of the Community Investment Tax. Unfortunately, the lower percentage level now earmarked for schools means we will not have enough funds to keep up with projected growth in our community. District staff will have to look for new funding sources to accommodate our students’ needs in the future.”

Photo: Canva

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