Sarasota News Leader

02/28/2014

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OPINION EDITORIAL VOTE 'YES' ON SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOLS' 1-MILL REFERENDUM EDITORIAL On Tuesday, March 25, Sarasota County vot- ers will go to the polls to consider renewing a special 1-mill property tax that goes entirely for operating expenses of the Sarasota County Schools. This levy was first approved by voters in 2002, with 62 percent of those casting ballots sup- porting the special tax. By law, the voters must renew it every four years, and they have overwhelmingly done so. In 2010, the 1-mill tax was supported by two out of every three people who went to the polls. By statute, Florida counties are strictly con- trolled in how much they can assess taxpayers for school expenses. In addition, a signifi- cant portion of each county's tax revenue for schools is turned over to the state, which redistributes those funds based on a statewide equity formula. As a result, wealthier coun- ties such as Sarasota send more tax revenue to Tallahassee than they receive in return. Fortunately, the state has made it possible for counties to assess additional amounts for local capital improvements and operating expenses. While the Sarasota County Schools utilizes these additional levies, the county still has fallen short of the funding level our schools need. Hence, the additional 1-mill tax. In the 12 years that revenue from the 1-mill tax has been available for our schools, excel- lent progress has been made in our district's rankings in the state. For example, the county most recently ranked sixth statewide in FCAT OPINION

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