Broward Politics: Should Voters Hike School Taxes?

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

 

Broward voters considering a new school tax face a classic no-win situation:

  • Vote for the tax and there is no guarantee that the tight-fisted Florida Legislature won’t use the local tax increase as an excuse to cut state money. Remember the lottery, which was sold on a promise to increase school money? 
  • Vote against the tax and the schools will be deprived of needed money. 

Don’t be fooled. The half-mil new tax solves few of the school system’s endemic problems.

At $94 million-a-year, the amount raised is little more than a rounding error at the $3.8 billion public school system.

To put the new tax in perspective, the $800 million bond issue voters approved four years ago is already $100s millions over the original budget and very little work has been done.

The new tax should make students safer because it will place more guards at the schools. But remember that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High had a sheriff’s deputy guarding the school.

The tax hike would also pay for about 80 new guidance counselors, social workers and behavioral staff to help troubled students.

Parents should not be under any illusion. There is absolutely no way to make every student safe from a nut with a gun in every situation. 

(Charter schools with less than 900 students are not promised any new guards, according to the ballot language. I guess kids in charter schools don’t count. Or maybe what counts more is the pathological opposition the School Board has for charters, despite their success among the public.)

School staff is promised a raise from the new taxes. Teachers, bus drivers and everybody else shouldn’t start spending yet. The exact amount going to each employee needs to be negotiated.  

But almost nothing from the new tax will go towards improving actual education. 

Two more reminders before you vote, especially if you are on a tight budget:

  • The school tax will cost $120-a-year in increased taxes for a home assessed at $240,000.
  • The county will be back in November asking for a hike in the sales tax from six to seven cents to pay for transportation improvements. Other than a new fixed rail system costing well over $1 billion, county planners are vague about what the rest of the money will build.

So the choice is to vote:

  • Yes. Schools will get increased safety, while school staff are promised some added pay, Superintendent Robert Runcie promises.
  • No. The schools will be forced to lay off staff and will experience other cut backs, Runcie threatens. 

Runcie will be in charge of the new money. 

 

Robert Runcie

 

 

The superintendent also is in charge of the 2014 bond spending.  His failure to live up to his promises while selling the bonds is a problem. 

The $800 million bond issue has been a disaster of unfulfilled promises, cost overruns and endless delays.“Over-promised and is under-delivering” is how the Sun-Sentinel described Runcie’s faltering effort a few weeks ago. 

Will Runcie handle this new money any differently?  Voters can only hope. 

Should a resident vote “Yes” or “No” on the school property tax increase? 

You get to decide that one.  



17 Responses to “Broward Politics: Should Voters Hike School Taxes?”

  1. Kevin Tynan says:

    It is a matter of trust = or the lack thereof. A NO vote is the only rational vote along with votes for a new board that will finally use our money for the purposes that they were intended – safety of our children and a good quality ,instead of hig administrative salaries, costs overruns and fiscal mismanagement.

  2. Obama says:

    Fire Runcie.

  3. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    I will answer that.Vote no people for extra tax u will pay.When Runcie just got over 800mill not to long ago to go back and bite the residents in the ass again.No way Jose.Then if Mr.Runcie is to state oh if this fails oh my God we will have to do layoffs and next it will be oh no i don.t have enough food in the school pantrys etc.Just he needs to go.Time is up.U know Mr Runcie is from Chicago from what i hear.U leave as Super.U take some job as say who knows dog catcher.U stay until Pres.Obama library gets open, use your Chicago connections and get a postion at the Presidential library.I bet they pay him handsomely..Bye.Bye.

  4. Vote no on School tax says:

    Vote no. The SunSentinel proved that Runcie lied to the public on the school shooting. He can’t be trusted with more money,

  5. A reader says:

    Runcie threatens. Exactly, an incompetent person usually resorts to threats when asked to competently perform their job. Lay off staff?? Start with the many layers of bureaucracy in administrative offices. Cut backs?? Stop the unnecessary busing to Nova High School, which for decades has not been an innovative school. It has morphed into a “regular” high school. Shut down BECON, a useless venue in today’s technological age. Get innovative, but leave the classrooms alone.

    Vote NO! Runcie has zero money management skills. Giving him more tax dollars would only be a monumental waste of assets. He would be crying broke in another few months and bellowing more threats. Incompetent!!

  6. J says:

    Vote NO on both. THERE IS ZERO ACCOUNTABILITY IN BROWARD COUNTY Buddy, you should start taking polls on your site, non scientific. I would be interested to see results from your readers. By reviewing the comment sections of the years, I’ve noticed your readers are diverse, politically and geographically within Broward.

  7. Runcie and Board Need to be data driven no social agendas says:

    Although I support Runcie and Broward Schools, they should take a step-back to become disciplined with their renovation project management and reporting.
    Rarely does adding administrative positions result in good outcomes.
    Why did “Teacher Pay” turn into adding administrative positions? The voters should ONLY vote on teacher pay, all the other additions should be scrapped. Teachers are in demand and we want to be competitive. The other positions are not in demand and giving them raises amounts to “social agendas” rather than market driven decision-making.
    I’m a Registered Nurse and in demand, I wouldn’t want my competitive pay to be mixed up with jobs not in demand.

  8. NW Broward MODO says:

    Vote NO. 80 additional social workers, guidance counselors and behavioral workers under the thumb of an administration known for retaliating against employees who “make waves” with regard to behavioral incidents that should be handled by law enforcement? No way. Remember, this is the same Superintendent who took it upon himself to place an ESE worker to oversee the school police department. If residents could direct deposit to teachers for a raise, they would probably do it. Have the money sift through the hands of Runcie? Not on your life.

  9. Thomas D James says:

    current board and Runcie are corrupt to the core. vote NO

  10. excompassionate conservative says:

    Hell no. Wages shouldn’t be on a ballot . Has the BTU or police – fire unions ever called your employer and demanded that they increase your salary and benefits?

    This is an issue of State funding education properly and if teachers leave Florida to find work in other states with higher wages and lower housing costs, good for them. How many of us left high cost NJ or NY to relocate down here in the past?

    When I first moved here in 1990 I knew two Broward teachers who were in excellent shape with an 80K combined income because it only cost them 129K to buy a brand new home in Broward County. I fully support funding public schools via local and state funding. But I won’t start linking wages to a vote . If anything, let us vote on reducing the bloated salaries of public health and school execs at the top . Lets vote on replacing the unfundable pension system with a 401K type plan that gets taxpayers out of the pension business . If you can get a much higher wage in another state and find lower housing costs, take it. I know many people who have seen SFLA turn into a rerun of NJ/long Island and move to cheaper places with less congestion and problems.

  11. Barry Halber says:

    Stop rewarding political correctness that places the lives of students and teachers at risk,forces silence and mediocrity upon teachers who dedicate their lives to student achievement, spends millions on sole source contracts instead of textbooks/homework resulting in students who add, subtract,
    multiply on their fingers, cannot write a coherent sentence and have major reading deficiencies. That is not acceptable by any reasonable standards. These children need a future they count upon and cherish along with parents who require their children to put in the time and effort in the classroom and home to achieve success. Put away the cell phones-no more Facebook and Twitter 4-6 hours/day this visually stimulated generation must get back to reading.

  12. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Remember I warned you about the $800 million. Learn from history. Vote no. Change the Board except for Nora, get a new Sup’t, Facilities Chief and lots of new staff. Get a state audit of where all the money is and has been spent.

  13. The Truth Hurts says:

    Thank you Buddy for the forum to comment on these important election issues. Yours is the only local sounding board.

    SunSentinel took down all comments about two weeks ago and the losers are the candidates who could gauge public support or not via those comments. S-S endorsed the candidates who were the subject of most of the criticism, which likely contributed to the shut down.There will be many surprised Tuesday pm when results come in and lots of disappointed losers.

  14. Dylan D says:

    Runcie and the board are misleading voters about the bond. There is no argument otherwise.

    The proof is on their website, where it is stated, “72% or more of all available funds would be used for compensation of teachers and school-related staff (including bus drivers, assistants and food service workers).”

    I don’t remember anything about bus drivers, assistants, or food service workers, on my ballot…

    These workers all deserve raises. But if the school board plans on using the bond to provide raises to other personnel in the district besides teachers, that information should have been provided on the ballot.

    Teachers should be wary about supporting this amendment. Putting raises on the tax payers seems like an easy out for Runcie and Fusco.

  15. Sheila Alu says:

    Vote NO on increase! Vote no on incumbents

  16. Gloria Lewis says:

    Heck to the NO. Fire some of is cronies. Why should I paid my own salary as a teacher and home owner!

  17. Charles Gianino says:

    Well written. It speaks for itself.

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