‘Yes’ on Education, Resounding ‘No’ to Transit Ripoff, Homestead Exemption Boost



By Scott Myers, Contributor

There are three key items (one state-wide amendment and two Hillsborough County referenda) on the upcoming November 6, 2018 general election ballot pertaining to taxes for Hillsborough County citizens, that require thoughtful deliberation before casting your vote:

1. Florida Amendment 1
This amendment would raise the homestead exemption for property taxes by $25,000.
$305 maximum savings which would flow mostly to middle and upper income folks.  
Low income folks who live in less expensive homes or rent would see little to no tax relief.
If this amendment passes, it would put upward pressure on increasing taxes on businesses and reduce services for such essentials as safety, roads and transportation, and water and sewer.
It would reduce local tax collections by $600 million statewide.  
This is a regressive tax in the sense that it does not help the poor but mostly benefits people at the upper end of the economic spectrum.
Requires 60% YES votes to pass.
2. Hillsborough County Transportation one percent sales tax referendum
Regressive tax that hurts the lower income folks the most and would displace minority communities to accommodate the rail spur from USF to downtown
              o  This referendum was steam-rolled to get on the November 6, 2018 ballot because the Rays need to pull the trigger by 12/31/2018 if they are to move from St. Pete to Tampa.
               o  If this referendum passes, then magically, public funds that already exist for transportation projects in Hillsborough County will get redirected to fund the new stadium. If this referendum does not pass, there will be no new Rays’ Stadium in Tampa.
The expedited petition drive for this referendum was funded primarily by Frank Morsani and Jeff  Vinik whose highly leveraged and woefully behind schedule downtown development project stands to benefit greatly from its passage.  The goal is to get as many people as possible to frequent Vinik’s Water Street District.  What better way to do this than to have these new public tax dollars pay for all of the transportation needs of the area?
A disproportionate amount of these tax dollars would be spent within the city of Tampa, to the detriment to the rest of Hillsborough County, and with no environmental oversight.
Requires just 50% + 1 YES votes to pass
3. Hillsborough County School halfpercent sales tax referendum
Public education in Florida has been treated terribly by the state legislature for a long time.  Maybe you have noticed that, once again, our Hillsborough county school property tax rate is being reduced for the coming tax year, by about 3%, which means $20 million in lost revenue to the school district. The school millage rate has dropped 21% from 2008 to 2018.  This is allegedly justified because of rising property values.  If you get a few spare cycles, please take a look at your property tax bill. My school taxes for 2017 are 35% lower (inflation adjusted) than in 2008.  What about yours?  How is our school system possibly going to even maintain, let alone flourish, with such fiscal malfeasance by the state legislature?
The component of the school tax that is being reduced this year is school-state’ which provides funding for teachers’ salaries, classroom supplies, etc.  That makes perfect sense, since Hillsborough County teachers were not given their PROMISED raises (would have cost $17 million) last year, right?  NOT!
Regrettably, both school property tax components [‘school-local’ (for maintenance costs and debt service) is the other one] are dictated by the state legislature, who have wreaked havoc on public education since at least 2009 with multiple reductions of both of these tax rates. 
With passage of this referendum, we can regain some local control of our public schools as we take a long over-due step to begin to undo all of the neglect and under-funding of our public education done by the state legislature.
Requires just 50% + 1 YES votes to pass

Using the above recommendations, we can make Hillsborough County better as we strengthen our public education system, protect our infrastructure, and block the tragic transfer of public funds from the poor to the rich.

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