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Tax advocates say poll shows strong support for Pinellas referendum



Pinellas County voters favor renewing a half-mill property tax to benefit schools, according to the pro-tax advocacy group Citizens for Pinellas Schools.

Beth Rawlins, chair of the group, sent us the results of a recent Pinellas Realtor Organization-financed a poll that found strong community support for continuing the tax. According to their survey of 600 likely Pinellas County voters:

- 72 percent said they would vote yes to renew the tax if the election were held today;

- 51 percent said they believe the property taxes in Florida are "about right" for the services they receive; 38 percent said they were "too high";

- 64 percent said they believe there is "great need" to maintain the current level of funding for Pinellas schools, while 15 percent said there is "some need";

- 33 percent described Pinellas public schools as "excellent" or "good," while 42 percent described them as "just fair" or "poor."

Attached below, you will find three documents: the full results of the survey, the survey's methodology and a press release announcing the results. The poll was conducted by American Strategies Inc. and Myers Research Strategic Services LLC in mid-February.

Rawlins and the Pinellas Realtor Organization's Brian Shuford said the survey results are encouraging. Shuford also serves on the citizens' independent financial oversight committee that keeps tabs on how the tax dollars are spent.

"We've really seen the impact of declining revenue on the school district," Shuford said, explaining the Realtors' support of the property tax. "A good school system affects our homes."

First approved in 2004, the tax has generated about $30 million each year, though declining property values have lowered that expected revenue to about $28 million next year. By law, 80 percent goes to teacher salaries, boosting them by about $3,000 each and keeping them competitive with surrounding districts. The rest is divided among art, music, reading and technology programs.

Voters approved renewing the tax in 2008. If it isn't renewed in November, collection of the tax will end on June 30, 2012.

For more information on the campaign to renew the half-mill, visit the Citizens for Pinellas Schools website.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 5:01pm]


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