District brings sales tax message to campus

Keiran Sheridan, Staff Writer

Last week, two informational posters explaining the Brevard Public School’s half-cent tax initiative were placed on campus at the request of the district. The posters explain the goals of the proposed surtax, which include maintaining and improving the existing school facilities in Brevard. The information also suggests that if  the referendum does not pass, a reduction or elimination of school programs will ensue.

“The District wanted to ensure that the public was aware of what type of financial state we are in now, how schools would benefit from the increased revenue from a half-cent sales tax and what would end up happening to schools if it doesn’t pass,” Principal Rick Fleming said. “These posters are a way to display the information to our students.”

Currently, schools derive their money from millage rates on property taxes, which places the financial responsibility for schools directly on Brevard homeowners. In order to share this responsibility throughout the whole community, the school board is advocating the surtax, saying it will spread that responsibility to all consumers who make purchases in Brevard County, including tourists and visitors. It is estimated the surtax would generate $32 million towards the capitol budget per year, compared to the property millage rates that generate approximately $8.9 million per year.

“If you think about kitchen cabinets in your home, air conditioning units and your roof, they have to be renovated or repaired about every 10 years. The school system is no different. These buildings are just like homes,” Fleming said. “Without any additional revenue over the last several years, there has been no money to repair dilapidated buildings.”

Schools and their faculty are not permitted to advocate supporting or not supporting school board proposals on their campuses, but they are permitted to present material in a objective manner.

“If you read that poster clearly, it never says ‘you need to vote for the half-cent sales tax, or else.’ It simply states that if the tax doesn’t get passed, schools will be forced to make cuts. Likewise, it explains how the extra revenue would benefit schools,” Fleming said. “This way, if the tax doesn’t get passed and the cuts come to fruition, the school board will be able to explain that they provided the public with enough information to make an informed decision on the sales tax.”

Fleming will be speaking about the half-cent sales tax in a presentation Thursday after school in the auditorium. An online version of these posters can be found on the BPS website.