Hernando voters strike down penny sales tax increase

BROOKSVILLE — The unprecedented collaboration failed.

The Penny For Projects one-cent sales tax was denied by Hernando County voters on Tuesday, leaving the School District to figure out other ways to generate $85 million over the next 10 years.

penny sales tax
Revenue from the penny sales tax increase would have funded a slew of high-ticket projects that would benefit the school district, county and Brooksville.

County, school district and Brooksville officials collaborated on efforts to inform the public about ways the penny revenue could be spent, mostly on improvements to roads and schools.

Proceeds from the Penny were to essentially be split between the county, Brooksville and the school district.

School Superintendent Lori Romano initially recommended that the district instead seek an extension of a half-cent sales tax that sunsets this year.

“We narrowly missed an opportunity give all Hernando County students a real competitive advantage in college and in the workforce,” Romano said in a news release. “We still have significant needs in our schools, and we will continue to work to find new sources of funding.”

Romano said district staff are “already working on plans to increase funding, decrease spending and still meet state digital instructional material and computer-based assessment requirements.”

Of the school district’s $85 million, nearly $62.4 million would be spent on electronic tablets for each Hernando student, as mandated by the state. Leftover money would be used to replace roofs; for heating, ventilating and air-conditioning units; and for fire alarms at schools.

Revenue from the penny also could have funded a slew of high-ticket projects that would benefit the county, as well as Brooksville. Some of them included:

♦ A nearly $20 million, two-part expansion of Barclay Avenue from Elgin Boulevard to San Antonio Road, and from San Antonio to Lucky Lane.

♦ Nearly $14 million for two projects at heavily congested Mariner Boulevard and State Road 50, including intersection improvements and a frontage road system on the south side of the intersection.

The money was to be tracked by citizen oversight committees.

Earlier this year, the county commission voted to reinstate impact fees for county parks, libraries, and transportation — but not education.

Options to increase funding, decrease spending and still meet state digital instructional material and computer-based assessment requirements will be presented to the board early next year, Romano said.

gfox@tampatrib.com

(352) 544-5283

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