Manatee County voters renew special property tax for school district
Almost 70% of voters OK 1-mill levy for another three years.
Manatee County voters on Tuesday delivered a big victory for the School District of Manatee County.
About 69.3% of voters approved extending the district’s special 1-mill property tax levy for another three years, making it possible for district to pay for higher salaries for teachers and other programs.
With all 70 precincts reporting, there were 46,900 “yes” votes, and 20,849 “no” votes.
“As superintendent of our more than 50,000 students and 6,600 employees, I humbly thank the citizens of Manatee County for their overwhelming support of public education in our community,” schools Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said in a news release. “How blessed and grateful we are to live in a county that values its students, teachers and schools in such a spectacular way.”
“I am thrilled that the extension of the 1-mill will continue to keep us competitive with neighboring school districts like Sarasota and Pinellas Counties – both of whom have had the additional mill for almost two decades,” Saunders said.
Just under 25% of registered voters in the county went to the polls Tuesday or cast ballots by mail or during in-person early voting.
Florida Politics @Fla_PolManatee County voters renew @Manateeschools tax referendum via @JacobOgles https://t.co/OHo9BgHlsb #FlaPol https://t.co/TFmJ1EWq4r
The special millage, which was first approved by 51% of county voters in 2018, has generated tens of millions of dollars to increase pay for teachers and other employees, create new STEM programs, increase the length of the school day by 30 minutes and fund public charter schools. Under the extended tax, proceeds will also be used to supplement arts programs.
If the measure had failed, teachers might have seen pay cuts of at least $5,000 a year, school district officials have said, noting there currently is no other way to pay the supplements out of the district’s existing $1 billion annual budget.
That was a major thrust of the opposition to the referendum extension. Opponents say the district should “pay teachers first,” before levying higher taxes.
This is the third time in five years that voters have agreed to raise or renew a tax to increase funding for the school district. In addition to the two votes on the 1-mill levy, voters in 2016 approved a half-cent increase in the sales tax rate to fund construction and other capital projects.
As of Oct. 28, Forward Manatee, a political action committee leading the campaign for approval of the referendum, had spent almost $293,000. In all, it has collected almost $305,000 in contributions, including large donations from real estate developers, construction companies, the national teachers’ union and the Manatee County Democratic Party.
Results of Nov. 2 elections in Manatee County
Manatee County school millage extension (70 of 70 precincts)
Yes, for extension — 46,900
No, against extension — 20,849
Bradenton Beach mayor (1 of 1 precinct)
John Chappie * — 241
David Galuska — 106
Bradenton Beach charter amendment (eliminating term limits) (1 of 1 precinct)
Yes — 164
No — 177
Holmes Beach City Commission (three seats open) (2 of 2 precincts)
Terry Schaefer * — 655
Carol Soustek * — 637
Pat Morton — 629
Renee Ferguson — 608
John Monetti — 473
Holmes Beach referendum (beach land swap) (2 of 2 precincts)
Yes — 851
No — 371
Trailer Estates Fire Control District referendum (dissolving fire department) (1 of 1 precinct)
Yes — 407
No — 27