The Palm Beach Countywide School Question
Bottom Line: While I was completing the Florida Amendment series, I heard from many that I should also specifically address this question in a similar way. So, for Palm Beach County voters here’s what it looks like on your ballot.
Ballot Title: REFERENDUM TO APPROVE AD VALOREM LEVY FOR SCHOOL SAFETY, TEACHERS AND OPERATIONAL NEEDS
Ballot Summary: Shall the School Board of Palm Beach County have authority to levy 1.00 mills of ad valorem millage dedicated for operational needs of non-charter District schools to fund school safety equipment, hire additional school police and mental health professionals, fund arts, music, physical education, career and choice program teachers, and improve teacher pay beginning July 1, 2019 and automatically ending June 30, 2023, with oversight by the independent committee of citizens and experts?
What would change:
The average single-family home owner would pay an additional $354 in property taxes starting in 2019 (based on current median home prices in PBC), continuing through 2023’s fiscal year.
The average town home/condo owner would pay an additional $176 in property taxes starting 2019 (based on current median prices in PBC), continuing through 2023
The proceeds would go the Palm Beach County school district to use for operations – Charter schools are specifically excluded
Thoughts: In my view this initiative is as offensive as it is disingenuous. Just two years ago the 16.7% sales tax increase was sought by the Palm Beach County School District and passed. The reasons provided then were much the same. Despite a huge jump in revenue as 50% of that sales tax increase goes directly to the Palm Beach County School District, they’re back for more. Here are the facts:
Since 2011 in Palm Beach County:
- Revenue is up 28% to $1.86 billion annually (from $1.45 billion)
- Total student population is up 10% (from 175,000 to 193,000)
- Total revenue has grown 18% faster than student counts
Additionally, Palm Beach County already has more revenue and more spend per student than Broward or Miami-Dade which sought smaller increases than Palm Beach County is seeking here. What’s more is that they went out of their way to ensure Charter Schools would be cut out as animus over non-traditional public education is once again evidenced. On principal I object to raising the property taxes on the roof over one’s head. Is it right, for example, for retirees on fixed income to be taxed out of their home because they can’t afford property taxes for schools they’ll never use? That’s just one of a myriad of potential examples. I’ll also remind renters that property taxes are passed on by landlords to you and account for much of the increase in rent rates leading to affordability issues in recent years.
The Palm Beach Countywide question isn’t just something that should be rejected with a no vote. It’s offensive and should be rejected based on a false premise advanced by the PBC School District.