An Editors Note: We would like to know if the School Board candidates support this tax? If you are a candidate you may e-mail us here to let us know. Editor@TalkAboutMartin.com If you have a letter you would like to share with your fellow Martin County Neighbors, drop us a line !
Over a decade ago, the Martin County BoCC encouraged (and subsequently) won a sales tax increase of ½ cent that would be used for infrastructure improvement and repairs, with a subsection to go to Parks and Recreation for their master plan build out. What the people of Martin County received was a water park, and allegedly improvements to general infrastructure as a whole. Whether it was through intentional misdirection, or poor communication, the end result is the same: Martin County residents felt duped.
Unfortunately, it would appear the school board failed to learn this lesson from their county partners.
On August 23rd, residents will be asked whether to continue the current half millage point supplemental tax, a tax that is being billed as a funding of: security, mental health services, and some teacher/staff bonuses for retention and recruitment. The truth is that of the $13.717 million yearly expected tax revenue, $12 million is to be used for recruitment and retention. In fact, less than $1.76 million is earmarked for security and mental health purposes.
It is a shame that the school board would make such a deceptive move. Martin County homesteaded residents are seeing their first net tax bill decrease in 15 years, and the extension of a half millage point would be all but guaranteed to pass with the positive economic situation in regards to property taxes. Should the school district have been forthcoming, and honest in their intent, this passage would have been a likely slam dunk.
Unfortunately, that is not the course of action taken by the School Board. There is no doubt that labor influences, and the high cost of Martin County living makes teacher recruitment and retention difficult. Add in the cost of commuting, and now teachers living in neighboring counties are happier to take lower paying jobs close to home to save on fuel. Frankly, most counties are not lower paying to begin with.
Only time will tell if this millage rate will pass, but one thing is for certain: the ends cannot justify the means. Lying to tax payers is never acceptable, and the ability for the school district to repair this broken trust will likely take considerable time to achieve. Just as the BoCC has struggled (and generally failed) to pass supplemental tax increases after their previous blunder, I now fear the same will befall the school district. Thought the cause was admirable, the action is deplorable and it is students and teachers who will ultimately pay for this mistake.
Palm City, Fl
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