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Manatee County voters support continuance of 1-mill school tax

MANATEE COUNTY – Manatee County voters overwhelmingly approved the continuation of the additional 1 mill property tax county voters first passed in 2018.

One mill equates to a property owner paying one additional dollar in ad valorem property taxes per every thousand dollars of assessed property value.

The 1-mill millage increase adopted in 2018 was in addition to the school district taxes already imposed on Manatee County property owners. As a result of Tuesday’s election, the additional tax will continue to be levied on Manatee County property owners through June 2025. This is in addition to the regular millage rate levied on county taxpayers on behalf of the Manatee County School District.

According to the unofficial countywide election results posted at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website Tuesday evening, 47,206 votes (69.27%) were cast in support of maintaining the additional 1-mill school tax and 20,946 votes (30.73%) were cast in opposition to continuing the additional school tax, with 68,267 ballots cast among Manatee County’s 276,204 registered voters.

The taxation question appeared on the ballot as follows: “Shall the School Board of Manatee County continue the current 1 mill ad valorem millage from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2025, as overseen by the Citizens’ Financial Oversight Committee, to increase student achievement through more instructional time and support; recruit and retain teachers and staff with competitive salaries; expand Career and Technical Education, STEM and Visual/Performing Arts programs; and to distribute proportional funds to Charter Schools pursuant to Florida Statute 1011.71?”

School District support

A series of videos posted at the Manatee County School District website prior to the election state the additional tax revenues generated by the 1-mill increase helps the district attract high-quality teachers, improves teacher recruitment, provides for additional instructional time, enhances STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs, renovates science labs, prepares students for jobs and advances student job skills, boosts career and technical programs, advances technology and engineering programs and advances arts programs.

GOP opposition

Representing the Republican Party of Manatee County, the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee posted a resolution at the party website prior to the election that addressed the party’s opposition to the continued additional taxation for the school district.

Manatee County voters support continuance of 1-mill school tax
The Republican Party of Manatee County opposed the continuance of the addition 1-mill school tax. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

In part, that resolution states: “The Republican Party of Manatee County stands for lower taxes and limited government. The Manatee County Republican Executive Committee opposes the 1-mill continuation ad valorem tax for the Manatee County School District. The (school) board represented the 2018 referendum tax would generate $33 million per year. In fiscal year 2020-2021, the tax actually raised almost $47 million. The broad scope and authority of the required oversight Citizens Financial Oversight Committee (CFOC) created upon passage in 2018 has been drastically reduced and limited. The June 2, 2021 letter from the Manatee County School Board CFOC states that, ‘No definitive conclusions can be drawn at this time regarding the success in accomplishing its goals.’ The Manatee County School Board has failed to justify the need for the proposed tax prior to placing it on the ballot.”

The party also paid for and distributed campaign signs in opposition to the continued additional taxation.

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