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Sarasota News Leader November 8, 2013 Page 31 The surtax on property raised as much as tax, voters were told the extra money would $60.8 million in fiscal year 2008-2009, at the be used for teacher and staff salaries. peak of the real estate boom. This year, it is An examination of the funding for the eight expected to raise $45.8 million. years (2006-2014) shows about $180.9 milVoters in 2000 rejected the tax. Two years lion was spent on salary increases above the later, the school Board waged a more sophis- base set by the state. That figure accounts for ticated electoral campaign, seeking approval about 58 percent of the $309.3 million raised of the measure. Among the changes in 2002 by the surtax in those eight years. was a provision to empanel a committee to watch over the spending and report on it By contrast, the first four years of the surtax, from 2002 to 2006, saw 29.3 percent of the annually. $126.6 million raised going for pay hikes. Prior to the first successful election, voters were promised the money would be used to District employees, including teachers, save the arts in the public schools. Legislators received a 3 percent cost of living adjustin Tallahassee were slashing state funding for ment (COLA) in 2002; a 4.5 percent COLA in local schools, and arts education statewide 2003; a 5.25 percent COLA in 2006; a 3 perwas suffering. However, before the second cent "across the board salary increase" in and subsequent elections on the special 1 mill 2007; and in Fiscal Year 2008-2009, another 1 Al Weidner, the Sarasota County Schools' deputy chief financial officer, presents the draft Fiscal Year 2014 budget in July. File photo

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