Clay County School Board mulls putting sales tax hike on ballot

$300M raised would go to secure, improve school buildings

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Two days after Clay County voters approved a property tax increase for school security, the district is now eyeing another tax hike in early 2019.

The property tax increase approved by voters will generate around $44 million to improve security by paying the salaries of school resource offers.

By law, that money can’t be used to secure buildings, so now the Clay County School Board is considering putting a half-cent sales tax increase on the ballot in early 2019.

The goal of that tax would be to raise $300 million to help secure school buildings, like classrooms that are in portables. Some of the $300 million would also go toward improving aging buildings, heating and air conditioning units and what the district calls “deferred maintenance.”

Clay voters seemed split on the half-penny tax issue -- just as they were on the property tax issue that passed on Tuesday.

Some said they were all in if the money would help protect schools and students, but others even threatened to move out of the county if the tax passes.

The approved property tax hike will cost homeowners roughly $100 a year on a $100,000 home. 

If the sales tax increase goes into effect, $1,000 in merchandise at a store like The Home Depot would cost $5 more in taxes than it does right now.

Some residents were critical Thursday of how the School Board is spending the tax money it already receives.

The political action group Clay Family Policy Forum sent out a flier before Tuesday’s election, claiming the district really only needed $21.3 million for extra security over the next four years, not the $44 million the property tax increase will generate.

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