November 2012 Ballot Question: Seminole County Property Millage Increase

It was amazing how little chatter there is online about the Seminole County School Millage increase for property owners. Property owners care when all county voters get to vote to extract money from someone other than themselves. As reported this has the potential to be a $100,000,000 tax generator over a four-year period!

There are a couple of PDF files with, what I imagine are samples of, the Ballot Question. Originally the request was to ask voters to approve an ad valorem millage increase of one mill for four years. In an attempt to be more specific, one sample is changed to read, “Shall Seminole County School District ad valorem millage be annually increased by not more than one mill beginning July 1, 2013, etc.” The clarification is clumsy and begs to question the meaning of 'annually increased.' After contacting the school board, they have advised me this wording is to mean the millage rate will be reviewed each year against projected expenses and each year the millage rate will be determined, and raised up to one mill. It will not be a cumulative increase.

We have a national problem. Whether it's Federal or State tax dollars, elected officials continue to divert funding collected for education. Taxes pay for education but do not go toward education. I sympathize with local school boards tasked with applying the limited funds appropriately but you need to study the pie chart and look harder for the red meat.

Getting more money from taxpayers is the easy solution. Emotional ploys tricking them into coughing up more money for programs they've already paid for are tired and overused. Any amount of money thrown at a problem solves nothing until the real problem is identified. It is of limited consequence whether this is a bad economy or not, but important what any tax increase will be used for. During the boom times, the Seminole Country School Board used their share of Lottery dollars and the beneficial 'penny tax' with growth models stipulating a need for technologically up-to-date schools and top-heavy administrations to run them. Now we have met the collapse of economic activity without budget redistribution. It is time to deal with it and reign in expenses.

New State laws, funding cuts and diversion of tax dollars have already pared the bottom ranks, including teachers, to basic essentials at the classroom level. Yet, our kids still do well on tests. Proponents of the millage increase use our “A” rated schools as bait for passage and threaten eliminating of sports, music and art programs. Budgets are erroneously sold on a cost/student ratio as if that alone comprises the entire cost of education. The non-education costs in the budget are not mentioned. Turning down the half penny sales tax in 2010 sent a message that voters do not trust the school board to spend their tax dollars wisely. Passage of this Ballot Question is a powerful lot of money to 'gift' to a school board for undeclared uses. This is potentially a $100,000,000 gift.

SEMINOLE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT AD VALOREM MILLAGE INCREASE

_____ NO FOR REJECTION

VOTE NO: Mill Rate Increase

Before voters scramble to the voting booth and 'wholeheartedly' approve this measure, know it's going to cost more than the projected $130.00/year. That amount is only what home owners get to pay. Business owners must fit into this equation somewhere if they own property. Landlords own property renters occupy. In this Rick Scott business-friendly state, a legal way will be found to have Seminole residents pay industry's share. Landlords will raise rents. Home owners will pay the $130.00 plus anything passed on to them as a 'resident' of the county.

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