- Orange County residents on Tuesday will vote to extend a property tax that helps fund the county’s educational budget
- Hillsborough County will vote to implement a similar measure for the first time
- Orange County leaders estimate the property tax would generate in excess of $800 million across four years
- In Hillsborough County, the tax would equate to $1 for every $1,000 of property value
Residents of Orange County on Tuesday will be asked to vote on an extension of a special property tax, while Hillsborough County voters will choose whether or not to implement a similar measure.
The Orange County School Board unanimously approved earlier this year to place the initiative on the ballot. A continuation would make the legislation, which has been in effect for the last twelve years, last until 2026. Property tax revenue is used to pay seasoned teachers’ salaries as well as for extracurricular activities like sports and the arts.
Per the Orlando Sentinel, district leaders estimate that the property tax would raise in excess of $800 million through the four-year span. in 2021, the tax provided nearly $150 million, representing a considerable portion of funding.
The tax is approximately $240 per year, or $20 per month, at the median property value of $265,030 for the county. According to the same Orlando Sentinel article, the school district budget would need to be reduced by $177 million should residents vote against the extension.
“The Orange County School District has received a funding increase from the Florida Legislature for beginning teacher pay and to achieve the $15 per hour minimum wage requirement for our lowest paid staff, but has not received adequate funding to compensate experienced teachers and support staff,” an Orange County School District resolution states. “These inflation-adjusted funding reductions have resulted in reduced funding to address programs and compensation for our most critical employees who serve the needs of our children and schools.”
In 2014 and 2018, county citizens chose to prolong the tax. According to the district, property tax revenue comprises 49 percent of its operational budget. It asserts that although the state provides 51 percent of the funding, this amount is insufficient to keep up with inflation.
In Hillsborough County, a tax structure similar to that in Orange County will be voted on for the first time. Should the referendum pass, it would allocate more funds to Hillsborough County schools through a raise in homeowner taxes.
The Hillsborough County School District has stated that the additional funding would be used to increase the district’s budget for renovations, staff salary subsidization, and program funding.
“Over the duration of this referendum, 1,700 projects will be able to be recognized and finalized with hard work, dedication to make certain that our children are able to have a safe location, a thriving location, and build a culture that shows that we truly, genuinely care and appreciate them every single day,” said Hillborough School District Superintendant Addison Davis in June, as reported by WFTS Tampa Bay.
As the tax is presented, the hike works out to $1 for every $1,000 that a homeowner’s property is worth. Property owners would begin to see an increase in taxable value in 2023 should the proposal gain approval. Residents may decide to extend the legislation at a later time through a ballot initiative, as was done in Orange County.