Duval School Board Proposes Sales Tax To Repair And Replace Aging Schools

Apr 24, 2019

Duval County voters soon could decide on a proposed half-cent sales tax to pay for the estimated $1.95 billion school district leaders say is needed to replace, repair and renovate the county’s aging public schools.

WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reports that School Board members agreed by consensus Tuesday to hold a special election — tentatively set for Nov. 5 — for the sales tax referendum recommended by Superintendent Diana Greene.

A key question must be answered before the referendum can be finalized: What role does the Jacksonville City Council play in the issue?

Before it can be placed on the ballot, the referendum resolution first must go to the City Council. It was unclear Tuesday whether the council’s authority is ministerial — an administrative function that is part of the procedure to put it on the ballot — or does the council have the option to deny or revise the resolution before it goes to voters.

Karen Chastain, board attorney, said the city’s Office of General Counsel is researching that issue but as yet not issued an opinion.

The board hopes to vote on the resolution May 7 at its regular meeting. The Tuesday session was a workshop focused on its funding options, wording of the resolution and how best to make the public aware of the need for the sales tax.

The half-cent sales tax — which can only be used to pay for capital improvements — is one of the few funding options available to the district to replace and repair schools.

If voters approve the half-cent sales tax, it would generate a conservative $1.3 billion over 15 years. Chastain said the sales tax would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

An expanded version of this story is at Jacksonville.com.