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Next Steps For Hillsborough County Education Sales Tax

Florida’s retail industry is gearing up for this year’s back-to-school sales tax “holiday” on clothes, classroom supplies and computer equipment, with the state offering the tax break for five days .
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Beginning Jan. 1, a half-penny increase will go into effect for Hillsborough County sales taxes to benefit the local public school district. Voters approved the referendum by 56 percent in the midterm election.

This additional tax, combined with a one-cent increase in the transportation tax,will bring the county’s overall sales tax to 8.5 percent, making it the highest in the state. The education tax increase is expected to generate $138 million per year for the next 10 years for the Hillsborough County Public School District.

The funds will be used for:

  • Air conditioning replacements and overhauls
  • Maintenance and renovation projects
  • Safety and security improvements
  • Technology upgrades
  • New construction to relieve overcrowding

Schools are expecting to see this additional funding by February and will begin work shortly after. According to Hillsborough County Public School Superintendent, Jeff Eakins, the top priority projects are air conditioning and roof replacements.
“Almost $680 million of the entire referendum will go to air conditioning replacements and overhauls. That’s the big ticket item. Those are the big items we had to defer year after year,” said Eakins. These renovations will begin next summer when students and staff are out of school.

Some of the other projects, such as fire alarm replacements, fresh paint, and elevator upgrades, will begin in March and April.

Eakins said the money will be divided based on priority.

“Every school in our school district will receive about a half million dollars worth of repairs and replacements over the next 10 years. Not only are we working on big projects such as air conditioning or roofing, but we’re making sure that $25 million of the referendum go towards improving technologies and making our classrooms more workforce and career ready,” said Eakins.

A seven-member Citizen Oversight Committee will supervise spending and follow-up on project completion. Eakins said the committee will be given plans to review as early as the week after Thanksgiving.  

For a list of renovations by school, click here.

Jeslyn Santiago is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for fall 2018.