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School district pushes for tax increase in hopes of making Martin County schools safer

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jun 19, 2018

Martin County voters will soon have two decisions to make at the ballot box when it comes to your child's education. One if for a property tax increase, the other is for a half-cent sales tax increase, but the school district said both are vital in keeping kids safe. 

The first vote on August 28 is for a property tax increase. If passed, a Martin County property owner with a taxable value, not the appraised value, of $250,000 would pay an additional $125 a year for 4 years. The estimated annual revenue from this vote is $11.2 million. 

All of the money would stay in Martin County and the school district would be required to spend it on school safety and security, mental health programs, recruiting and retaining teachers, professional development and academic initiates. 

The district said currently one of the biggest problems it has isn't hiring new teachers, but retaining qualified teachers with 3-5 years of experience. 

"The county to the north of us is twice as big, the county to the south of us is 10 times as big, so they can afford to pay more for their teachers than we can afford," said school district.     . 

Then, on November 6, voters will once again cast a vote, but this time on a half-cent sales tax increase. This means for someone buying $2,000 a month of taxable goods (not food or housing), they would pay an additional $120 a year. If approved it would pay for capital expenses, last 7 years and is estimated to generate 16 million dollars a year for the school district. 

“You know I hate sales tax but I’ll vote for that in a minute because it’s an emergency here that we are having,” said martin county resident Jackie Trancynger.  

Trancynger, who spent her entire career as a teacher in New York, has since retired to Martin County. She now spends her time fighting for her neighbors. 

"They deserve it, the teachers here are wonderful," said Trancynger. 

Just like the property tax vote, the half-cent sales tax increase would require all of the money to stay in Martin County and fund things like security upgrades and enhancements, as well as replace Jensen Beach Elementary and Palm City Elementary School. 

"Palm City Elementary is one of our oldest and was built at a time when the design for schools was a lot more open," said Martin County School Board Chair Christia Li Roberts. 

Roberts went on to say campus safety is a top priority and with a more current campus layout for both elementary schools it would be easier to keep taps on who is entering and leaving at any given point. 

Trancynger said she fears other residents won't vote in favor of the two ballot items because of how they are worded. However, county commissioners said during Tuesday's meeting that there are specific requirements for how they write them and there isn't much they can do about it. 

"I would not like to see these two initiatives defeated," said Trancynger. 

For more information on Tuesday's meeting: CLICK HERE