By Laurie Berger
There is special election this coming Tuesday, November 3 that includes a proposed 1/2 cent sales tax increase, and St. Johns county residents need to get out and vote. If you are an early voter, the deadline for early voting is Saturday, October 31!
I have two children who are very early in their public school education (K and third grade). I am not into politics, nor do I typically tell people what to vote for. But I value the education of our precious children and want to keep the quality of their education high!!
The 1/2 sales tax increase is needed to supplement the St Johns County School District’s (SJCSD) capital budget. St. Johns County is growing extremely fast and there is no money in the budget for new schools. The sales tax increase will help provide for new schools and maintain our existing ones. It will also provide for technology upgrades in the classroom and security and safety improvements.
Our newest school, Valley Ridge Academy, is at capacity and is expecting a few hundred more students in the next two years. New home sales continue to climb in Nocatee. This means SJCSD may have to rezone and start busing children back to PVPV and Ocean Palms. If this doesn’t pass we risk going back to overflow classes, crowded buildings, increased use of portables and the stress of rezoning!
All of the revenue for this tax increase (sales tax) is designated for our schools. Currently, St. Johns County sales tax is 6% and would increase to 6.5% for a total of ten years. Presently, Duval County sales tax is 7%. Does anyone not shop at St Johns Town Center because of Duval’s sales tax?
St. Johns County estimates a cost of $70/year for a family of 4 with an average income of $60,000-$70,000 per year. This seems like a small price to pay for new schools and optimal learning environments.
I know that some of you are reading this and saying “My children go to private school,” or “My children are out of the house and already graduated,” or “We don’t have children so this doesn’t pertain to us”. Well, we are a community, and the fact that St. John’s County has the number one school district in Florida helps maintain our property values. Overcrowded schools aren’t a good selling point in the real estate market.
Please take a moment to check out the information on the St. John’s County website – http://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/halfcentsalestax/, as well as at http://www.abetterstjohns.com . You can see how little it will actually cost your family!!
About the author: Laurie Berger is a parent of two children and PVPV/Rawlings and a member of the PVPV/Rawlings PTO Board.