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After recount, no change in Hillsborough schools tax results

The district will have to wait two years to try again for a special property tax that would increase teacher pay.
The final vote tally, after a recount, for and against a schools tax in Hillsborough County is shown.
The final vote tally, after a recount, for and against a schools tax in Hillsborough County is shown. [ MARLENE SOKOL | Times staff ]
Published Aug. 28|Updated Aug. 28

Despite numbers so close that a recount was needed, Tuesday’s defeat of a Hillsborough County schools tax will stand, officials announced Sunday.

“The results did not change,” Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said at a meeting of the Hillsborough Canvassing Board. “No” votes still outnumber “yes” votes by 590, or 0.26% of all votes cast.

Had the difference moved to 0.25%, there would have been a manual recount under state law. But that didn’t happen, and now the school district will need to wait until 2024 before pursuing a special property tax again.

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer speaks to the media at the Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center on Friday in Tampa.
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer speaks to the media at the Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center on Friday in Tampa. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

School district attorney Jeff Gibson, who was at Sunday’s meeting, said he was disappointed.

“But I do want to thank Mr. Latimer and his staff for all the hard work they did this weekend,” he said. “And we’ll be back in two years.”

The measure, if approved, would have raised property taxes by $1 for every $1,000 in assessed value to support ongoing school expenses, primarily payroll. Employees would have received raises and the district would have spent more on elementary arts, physical education and career education programs.

Related: Hillsborough rejected school tax while other Florida counties said yes

Many other Florida districts, including Pinellas, already have this type of local option tax. In Pasco, a similar measure passed Tuesday with 59% of the vote. Because of this difference, Hillsborough finds itself at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring and retaining teachers at a time of widespread classroom vacancies.

The district website now lists 566 instructional vacancies. For the first three weeks of school, hundreds of administrators filled in for teachers at schools with the most pressing needs.

Teachers are still awaiting word on their pay package for the current school year. Their union declared a bargaining impasse on July 28. The two sides are scheduled to resume talks Monday afternoon.

Related: Hillsborough schools take a hard line on teacher pay, citing mounting expenses

The recount for Hillsborough County Judge in Group 14 also produced no change. That election will continue to a November runoff between Melissa Black and Mike Isaak.

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