Despite numbers so close that a recount was needed, Tuesday’s defeat of a Hillsborough County schools tax will stand, officials announced Sunday.
“The results did not change,” Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said at a meeting of the Hillsborough Canvassing Board. “No” votes still outnumber “yes” votes by 590, or 0.26% of all votes cast.
Had the difference moved to 0.25%, there would have been a manual recount under state law. But that didn’t happen, and now the school district will need to wait until 2024 before pursuing a special property tax again.
School district attorney Jeff Gibson, who was at Sunday’s meeting, said he was disappointed.
“But I do want to thank Mr. Latimer and his staff for all the hard work they did this weekend,” he said. “And we’ll be back in two years.”
The measure, if approved, would have raised property taxes by $1 for every $1,000 in assessed value to support ongoing school expenses, primarily payroll. Employees would have received raises and the district would have spent more on elementary arts, physical education and career education programs.
Many other Florida districts, including Pinellas, already have this type of local option tax. In Pasco, a similar measure passed Tuesday with 59% of the vote. Because of this difference, Hillsborough finds itself at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring and retaining teachers at a time of widespread classroom vacancies.
The district website now lists 566 instructional vacancies. For the first three weeks of school, hundreds of administrators filled in for teachers at schools with the most pressing needs.
Teachers are still awaiting word on their pay package for the current school year. Their union declared a bargaining impasse on July 28. The two sides are scheduled to resume talks Monday afternoon.
The recount for Hillsborough County Judge in Group 14 also produced no change. That election will continue to a November runoff between Melissa Black and Mike Isaak.
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