MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Voters in Martin County on Tuesday approved extending the current millage rate, which is a special property tax to support the school district.
The millage rate referendum, which was approved in 2018 is set to expire, was extended Tuesday for four years with 68% of the vote. Without renewing it, the Martin County School District said it would have been out almost $50 million over the next four years.
The referendum funds everything from teacher pay to school safety and mental health, just to name a few.
Martin County School Board Chair Christia Li Roberts said she feels Tuesday's vote shows that people who live in Martin County truly value education.
"It’s kind of encouraging to know that people really do, not just value education, but understand what we’re doing, trust what we’re doing as a board, and appreciate what we’re doing as a board," Roberts said. "We deeply value our teachers, we deeply value our employees. But without the money to do it, it’s hard to show that appreciation we do have."
Roberts said that if the referendum wasn't approved Tuesday, it would have been harder for the school district to remain competitive with salaries for teachers and support staff.
WATCH: Property tax referendum would raise $50 million for Martin County schools
Over the past four years, the one half-mill increase went toward paying for things like security cameras and building renovations, and helping to keep teacher pay competitive.
Roberts said the money also goes toward mental health initiatives and district operations.
Critics, though, said the tax was billed as only lasting for four years and wanted the school board to manage operations without extending the tax increase.
Martin County property owners will see up to one half-mill on their property tax bill designated for the Martin County School District with this special tax. District leaders said that if you have a homestead exemption, you will actually see a decrease in school property taxes.
The tax is expected to bring in more than $13 million in its first year. More than $12 million of that will go toward teacher and support staff pay.
Each year, the Martin County School Board has budget talks, and it could decide to not collect the full half-mill if there's not a need for it.
For more information about the millage rate referendum and how the money will be used by the Martin County School District, click here.