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East County Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2021 4 months ago

Manatee County schools' millage special election set for November

The School District of Manatee County will use after-school care fees to fund the special election.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Manatee County residents will be headed to the polls Nov. 2 for a special election on the School District of Manatee County’s 1-mill property tax referendum.

The Manatee County commissioners unanimously approved the resolution June 8 after the School Board of Manatee County made changes to the resolution to address commissioners’ concerns about having a $400,000 special election. 

The millage was last approved with 51% of the vote in March 2018 during a special election. It generated $40.33 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year, and it is expected to generate $42.61 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year. The money from the millage is used to increase student instruction time by 30 minutes per day, increase pay for district employees, and expand career and technical education and STEM programs. The millage also provides funding for charter schools.

If voters approve the 1-mill property tax, it would start July 1, 2022, and expire June 30, 2025. Having the millage expire after three years instead of four years forces the vote on the millage to occur during presidential elections starting in 2024, meaning there no longer would be special elections for the vote.

Commissioner George Kruse, who first suggested the school board move the election to the Aug. 16, 2022, primary election, said he appreciated the changes the school board made to ensure future millage votes would occur during general elections when the most Manatee County residents’ voices will be heard.

“I do feel there’s some good faith associated with adjusting [the vote date],” Kruse said.

The school board couldn’t hold the vote during the Aug. 16, 2022, primary election because the current millage expires June 30, 2022. If the board waited to hold the vote, the school district would lose a year of revenue from the millage.

The school district will use after-school care fees to pay for the special election.

Tim Bargeron, the associate superintendent of finance for the School District of Manatee County, said the enterprise funds from after-school care are used in a variety of ways and are used at the discretion of the School Board of Manatee County.

The board could choose to use the funds for anything in the district, such as laptops and textbooks, or to fund the special election, Bargeron said.

“We feel we are in good shape for covering the cost of the special election,” Bargeron said.

Bargeron and Mike Barber, a spokesperson for the district, said a political action committee will be developed to raise money for the campaign.

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