JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the upcoming primary election just around the bend, one of the questions Duval County voters are being asked is whether they’re willing to pay higher property taxes so that Jacksonville teachers can earn a better salary.
We’ve spoken with many people about the issue. Some say times are tough but that it’s hard to go against schools and teachers -- even though it could be a hefty increase of potentially several hundreds of dollars on property tax bills in Duval County.
“I would pay an extra $1,000 a year if I knew it was going to the right place,” homeowner Austin Nevau told me.
Others disagree, including an anonymous viewer who said: “Absolutely not. The school board just got revenue from a half-cent sales tax and now they want more? … Why don’t they try belt tightening first. Just because they say they need money do we automatically have to give it to them?”
Here’s how the proposed rate hike breaks down. It will increase the school district’s portion of your property tax rate by one mill -- that’s one dollar for every $1,000 of assessed value on your home.
An example: Let’s say your home is appraised at $300,000. After your homestead exemption, you could pay an additional $275 per year. Where will the new money go?
- 65% of it will go to teachers’ pay
- 12.5% will go to the arts and athletic programs
- 12.5% will go to charter schools
- 10% will go to school staff
Duval County School Board Chairman Darryl Willie says the proposed tax rate increase is needed even though we had a recent sales tax increase for schools.
“We’re going after one mill because our teachers deserve it. At the end of the day, we need to make sure our teachers get the money,” Willie said.
I asked Willie about the sales tax increase that was approved in 2020.
“Two very different funds. It’s very different,” Willie said. “It can be used for capital for building improvements or for safety and security, which we need. And we’ve done a lot with that. This specific one mill is for salaries, and we are not allowed to mix those funds.”
The average teacher salary is $47,458. How much more they could make is still up in the air. Contracts would be reworked, but we could see some teachers get an additional $5,000 per year.
Notably, if this is approved, it would have to be renewed by voters every four years.
It will be decided in the primary and all registered Duval County voters can weigh in. Vote by mail is underway. Early voting starts Monday and the primary is Aug. 23.