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Opinion
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Guest Column
Hillsborough school district could pay teachers more without raising taxes
There are ways to give teachers a raise without also raising taxes, a former school board member writes.
 
Hillsborough County School Board members engage in discussions during a board meeting at the school district headquarters on Nov. 2, 2023, in Tampa.
Hillsborough County School Board members engage in discussions during a board meeting at the school district headquarters on Nov. 2, 2023, in Tampa. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published March 30

The proposal for an additional property tax to fund operations in Hillsborough County’s schools raises serious concerns that cannot be ignored. While its aim is to improve teacher pay and address staffing challenges, doubts arise about its necessity.

Steve Cona
Steve Cona

Between 2022 and 2023, a notable increase in property values generated more than $35 million in additional revenue for the district. This suggests that the district benefits from the growing property values and may not require additional funding from taxpayers. Yet, there’s a push for more funding.

Financially, the district is not in dire straits. With a projected revenue of more than $400 million in 2024, there seems to be enough to fairly compensate teachers without resorting to extra taxes. The district could reallocate funds from areas like administrative expenses, potentially trimming $170 million from its $4 billion budget. This could significantly boost teachers’ salaries without increasing the tax burden on residents.

The timing of the proposed tax hike is questionable, especially given the high cost of living and economic struggles faced by families. Instead of burdening taxpayers further, the district should explore alternative solutions.

In light of increasing property values and ample revenue, additional property taxes seem unwarranted. The district should prioritize the well-being of students and taxpayers, and homeowners should advocate against further taxation and demand greater accountability from the district.

Steve Cona is a former Hillsborough County School Board member.