Hillsborough County voters will have a chance in the Tuesday, August 23 primary election to decide if they want to pay a millage tax to fund public schools.
The question voters face is whether to pay a $1 million tax or $1 for every $1,000 of taxable property value.
The next question for many property owners is what that means in terms of actual cost and impact to their budgets. According to the school district’s web page explaining the tax, “a property valued at $246,808 (median market value in Hillsborough) with a homestead exemption applied, an owner would pay about $18.48/month or $222/year.”
An estimated $146 million is expected to be raised annually for the four-year term of the tax, which will begin on July 1, 2023 and end on June 30, 2027 unless renewed by voters.
School district officials cited a staffing shortage they want to address with higher pay as a major reason for needing the tax, especially with the high rate of economic inflation in the Tampa Bay area. They said the district needs to hire about 400 teachers and other instructional employees and almost 600 support personnel to have the district fully staffed. The Hillsborough County School District is the seventh-largest school district in the United States with 220,000 students who are taught by 14,181 teachers. The district has a total of 23,815 employees.
District officials said the tax would allow them to provide instructional employees, such as teachers and counselors, with an average $4,000 annual pay increase and give about $2,000 more per year to support staff, like bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
Some of the new revenue will be used to increase art, music and workforce education opportunities for students. The district said it will hire 45 art teachers, 67 music teachers and 37 physical education teachers for elementary schools.
Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis said the district has worked hard to align its budget between needs and funding during a challenging time.
“We’ve had to make some very difficult, hard choices over the last two years,” he said in a video about addressing finances, which is available on the district’s website.
Early voting in the election begins on Monday, August 8 and runs through Sunday, August 21, with Election Day and the end of the primary election voting cycle occurring on Tuesday, August 23.