Advertisement
  1. Florida

Florida lawmaker proposes higher threshold for off-cycle tax referenda

Hernando County voters approved a local sales tax for schools in an off-year election.
Hernando County voters approved a local sales tax for schools in an off-year election.
Published Sep. 14, 2017

With revenue stagnant, and a new requirement to share local capital resources with charter schools, Florida school districts are increasingly talking about asking voters to impose higher sales taxes on themselves to help pay for school construction and maintenance needs.

The Okaloosa County School Board agreed this week to hold a referendum in May. Hillsborough and Pasco County board members are considering their options, too.

Related coverage: Hillsborough officials: New sales tax may be the only way to fix schools

As they move forward, though, Pinellas County Sen. Jeff Brandes wants to ensure the moves have as much public participation as possible. He has floated legislation that would require more than a simple majority for any tax referendum that takes place outside a general election. With SB 272, any referendum not occurring on a general election ballot would require 60 percent of the votes.

"When you have a general election, you have a more engaged electorate," Brandes explained.

In the past, some school districts and other governments have held tax votes in off years, or as special elections. "If you want to offer [a referendum] in some low turnout election, you would have to meet a higher threshold," Brandes said

Its a slightly different version of a bill that didn't make it out of the 2016 or 2017 legislative sessions. But Brandes anticipated stronger interest this year.

"I think there's a lot of discussion about tax policy," he said. "This is a simple, straight-forward way to ensure hardworking taxpayers in Florida are being treated fairly, that there aren't any tricks and games being played."

So far, there's no House companion.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Florida's unemployment rate hit a record low in December. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) [LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP]
    Nearly every major job sector posted gains from a year earlier.
  2. A proposed bill in the Legislature would set a statewide referendum on whether to amend Florida's constitution to add a year to the period when home buyers can transfer their accumulated benefits under the Save Our Homes cap on property assessments to a new home. Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty says going from two years to three would reduce the possibility that construction delays in a booming real estate market would prevent some buyers from meeting the deadline, costing them potentially thousands 
 of dollars in property tax savings. [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times (2019)]
    The bill, the idea of Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty, would give buyers another year to transfer their tax savings under Florida’s Save Our Homes assessment cap to a home they’ve...
  3. Loreen Spencer (left) and Sue Watts, the two newest members of HCI Group's board of directors. [HCI Group]
    “I just wish I had thought of this earlier,” the chairman and CEO said.
  4. Dogs who survived Thursday's fire at a reputable breeder's house in Orlando. [Orlando Fire and Rescue]
    The fire occurred at a reputable breeder’s house, reports say.
  5. Twitter user Mark Kelly (@MarkKellyWPBF) posted a video of what looked like snow flurries in South Florida. [Twitter screenshot]
    This type of precipitation is still out of the ordinary for the Sunshine State.
  6. A Publix chicken tender sub sandwich. Pub Subs are now easier to order through Instacart grocery deliveries. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
    New Instacart Meal program to make Pub Sub orders a breeze, according to the grocery delivery app.
  7. Ramon Christopher Blanchett. [Courtesy of Ramon Christopher Blanchett] [Ramon Christopher Blanchett]
    An attorney for Ramon Christopher Blanchett sought a lesser sentence after his client admitted to filing a false return.
  8. This Feb. 6, 2015, file photo shows a Measles, Mumps and Rubella, M-M-R vaccine on a countertop at a pediatrics clinic in Greenbrae, Calif. A study released this week has found that a 2016 California law intended to improve childhood vaccination rates had the greatest effect on high-risk areas where the rates were the lowest. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File) [ERIC RISBERG  |  AP]
    The case involves a man who recently traveled to South America.
  9. A 14-year-old girl who fell out of a car window in Florida suffered critical injuries, according to Florida Highway Patrol. [Times files] [Times (2006)]
    The teen was leaning out of a window when the driver hit a curb and the girl fell out, news outlets reported.
  10. Clockwise from left: Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apple, Candy Corn and Cheeseburger-On-A-Stick [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]
    Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apples and more are coming to the Florida State Fair.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement