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Making Sense of the Proposed Half Cent Sales Tax

HERNANDO – Those who follow politics are probably glued to their televisions every evening, waiting to find out who’s jumping on or off presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign train. But you may want to take a moment to look in your own backyard before September 8th, and decide if you are for or against a proposed half cent sales tax for Hernando County Schools.

In a recent RNRF survey, we asked our viewers what they thought of the proposed tax and if they planned to vote yes or no in September. The results of the survey were about 60/40, in favor of the new tax, but there was some confusion as to what the revenue would actually be used for.

Here are a few excerpts from our Yay or Nay question to viewers:

Yay – Eric Nelski says, “Do any of you non supporters of this tax realize a poor school system equates to a lower standard of living within the community. It will also lead to higher amounts of crime. So voting no will adversely affect everyone who lives in Spring Hill.”

Yay – Pam Ceurvels Rogers says, “This is going for hiring and retaining teachers for our students!! This will be the first year in 25 years I will have no children in school BUT I’m thinking about our future. These kids will be running this country soon!!! We have to help now!”


Nay – Kelly Stacy says, “Voting for the tax increase would be easier if people were more confident in how officials will spend it.”

Abstained – Timothy Desmond says, “What’s the difference if they don’t get it they’ll just go behind our backs and raise the gas tax again. We already have the highest gas in the Tampa bay area and the commissioners stick it to us again. How about taxing a harmful luxury like tobacco or alcohol, we need fuel to get to work it’s a necessity.”

If you think this is a politically partisan issue, you would be wrong; local leaders on both sides of the Isle have come together in support of the tax.

Hernando Chamber of Commerce Chairman, John Mitten says, “We must make repairs to our schools… As a caring community we must save our schools and save our students on Sept. 8th.”

Chairman of the Hernando County Democratic Executive Committee, Jimmy Lodato, urges citizens to vote yes and bring back the tax. “As a community we must come together. The key to economic development is education” says Lodato.

During an interview, Journalist and FOX News Contributor, Gregg Laskoski says, “…bringing back the half-cent makes sense for everyone, even for retirees who may have no kids in Hernando schools, because communities that support their schools and have well-performing schools benefit from the enhancement that quality schools represent for residential property values.

To some, a “yes” vote makes perfect sense, but there are skeptics who want to know exactly where the revenue will be applied and when there will be noticeable results.

We asked Hernando County School Board Representative, Eric Williams, to clarify some of the concerns regarding the proposed tax.

RNRF: Where will revenue derived from this tax be specifically allocated? Will it be used for Programs, repairs, salary, expansion, common core tablets, the arts, sports, etc.?

Williams: The sales tax will ONLY support facilities repairs/renovations, nothing else.  The specific projects are outlined in Exhibit A in the attached Board-approved (BOCC-approved also) resolution.

In part the resolution states; Projects consists of fixed capital expenditures or fixed capital costs associated with the reconstruction or improvement of school facilities and campuses which have a life expectancy of five years or more… neither the proceeds of the surtax nor any interest accrued shall be used for operational expenses. (A Link to the Resolution will be located at the bottom of this article)

RNRF: Some say this is a “10 year plan.” If so, do you have a hierarchy of priorities and a timeline as to when each goal will achieved?

Williams: The timeline is clearly outlined in the Board-approved resolution. Exhibit A is our Board-approved 5-Year Facilities/Operations plan.

RNRF: Many are concerned with the depletion of school programs, especially those in the arts. What will be done to address that issue and when will those programs be brought back to the schools?

Williams: Potential sales tax revenues cannot be used for anything but “capital” projects. Any cuts to programs for the 2015-16 school year are not a DIRECT result of the loss of sales tax revenues; they are a result of a $6.3 million budget shortfall for 2015-16.  Programs (art & music) are funded through the district’s General Fund (not Capital).  The biggest expense for these programs is typically salaries/benefits for teachers.

Sales tax revenues cannot be used for salaries/benefits for teachers.  Any art/music programs cut as a result of our $6.3 million budget shortfall will be restored as funding allows and at principals’ discretion.

RNRF: How will the oversight committee be selected and how many will be seated on that board?

Williams: It will be an “audit” committee, not an oversight committee.  This audit committee will verify that sales tax revenues have only been used on pre-approved facilities projects outlined in the Board-approved resolution (also in the 5-year facilities operations plan) and will report on the progress in completing projects to the Board and the public.  They WILL NOT determine priorities for completing pre-approved projects, as this has already been determined by facilities/operations experts based on the age of the facility and the conditions of the (for example) roofs and HVAC units.  The composition and manner of selection for members of the half cent sales tax audit committee will be determined after Sept. 8, but we assure voters that there will be an audit committee.

Local voting precincts can be found on the Supervisor of Elections Website at

Follow this link to read the resolution in its entirety: ½ SALES TAX RESOLUTION 15-021

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ™2013 – 2015 Real News Real Fast, Inc.

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  • It looks like it passed 2 to 1, a shame that it deteriorated into a name callin session. As a former Yankee that has lived in Fl for Fifty plus years and a former South Florida business owner I object to people telling others to move out and using other objectionable slurs. This issue is purely about the principle of poor government that goes back to the federal, State and County levels. Oh well, it passed, now we will see how they intend to make up their shortfall. Would anyone like to hazard a guess that perhaps they will push for more taxes? Oh, and this R. Starz that states he moved here because of the projected population increase he had noticed or researched is the type of carpetbagger my relatives told me about years ago. All your salient points do not add up to a hill of beans. Except when you counsel to remove all the lawyers!

    Wednesday, 9 September 2015, 10:57 am
  • Wow, Crumpet, sadly, that makes sense as it allows for education to be funded anf leaves more monies in the general budget for other things. Sadly, it is very misleading to the public that believes those lottery dollars are helping the schools, when, in fact, the school budget doesn’t change a bit. Sounds like our government!

    Monday, 17 August 2015, 3:56 pm
  • Regarding Lottery money. In my home state, the lottery money is cleverly allocated to education: ON PAPER. Yes, the $$ goes into the ed. Fund; the latter is then reduced by that amount and those funds are put back into the General Fund. Tricky bookkeeping !

    Saturday, 15 August 2015, 10:52 pm
  • Punisher : From the National Vital Tatistics Report as listed on the website. Live births have declined since 2010, severely declined since the 60s and are in fact the lowest they’ve been since 1920 and likely before, but that is a far back as recorded for this data. As for needing me and relocating, you have no clue what I do for childen in our community, nor do you seem to understand this is a budget issue and not a love of children issue, and, finally, I’ve been here nearly 50 years and 3 generations of my family are HHS graduates, so looks like you’re stuck with me whether it pleases you or not because I’m not going anywhere.

    Saturday, 15 August 2015, 8:43 pm
  • Birth rates have declined? Kresge Where u getting that info? Look around everybody has kids even the ones that shouldn’t ( increases there EBT card funds )
    I’m for the vote and anybody that can’t afford a half cent for our kids please move out of here because we don’t need you.

    Saturday, 15 August 2015, 3:17 pm
  • Taxes are already passed through to the schools from the federal, state, and local governments (property tax millage rate), plus, lottery money is received. Since birth rates have declined, more kids equate to more parents, which equates to a proportionate increase in tax monies, so there should be no need for an additional tax.

    @Starz, while I would argue that red tape is a hindrance to efficient and effective work, rather than necessay for quality work (most are licensed and bonded these days), I agree it would be difficult to modify the process at this point. I do think that refusing to foot the bill may be they ONLY leverage the average citizen can use to make their voice heard. And yes, I agree, attorneys are a definite problem!!!! No offensive to my friends either.:)

    Saturday, 15 August 2015, 4:13 am
  • Becky u still make no sence. Live within your means but when more and more people are having kids and population grows how would you expect the county to keep up the funds for the growing population? (TAXES Dumb***.

    Thursday, 13 August 2015, 3:50 pm
  • Lottery says they give billions to education where is that money

    Thursday, 13 August 2015, 8:41 am
  • I correct myself. Only a few Counties in FL impose impact taxes on builders. This is passed on to buyers as a 1 time fee.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 6:07 pm
  • Other states impose school impact taxes on builders..only a few in FL. I’ll vote NO! ,

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 6:04 pm
  • Becky’s a cracker. I have watched our beautiful county mature since infancy.
    Why is it that the average, hard working taxpayer has to LEARN to live within there means but the governing body and THE SCHOOL BOARD wouldn’t know how to apply a zero balanced budget if there top accountant presented it to them.
    Our taxpayers don’t need an new tax on everything needed to sustain an existence.
    The school board should learn to exist on the overpaid taxes they already receive. There budget already supplies the amount required to provide an excellent education for our children.
    Want a raise. Get in line.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 5:37 pm
  • “People have to understand that you just don’t go to Lowes and buy product and have anyone install it. All items need to be commercial grade that will stand up to abuse and they MUST be installed by an approved vendor that is required to be bonded and insured. All of this adds up. Projects are still bid out and you have to abide by state laws required for the bidding process. Straying from this can have legal ramifications.”

    Herein lies the real problem for this is where the goverment waste exists and the reason why taxpayers are bled dry to the point of exhaustion. Goverment regulations abd bureaucracy make all things far more tedious and expensive than necessary. Starz post was excellent and informative, and had push my vote to the yes category until this closing statement reminded me of what we all complain about in regard to government. ….too big and too wasteful. No matter how much we give, it’s never enough, and until they learn to be better stewards, when given a choice, I think I will decline to throw more money their way. Though choice, as I recognize the need for capital improvements, but the path needs reviewed before I’m willing to help.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 3:45 pm
    • You will never change the policies to get work done and I would highly suggest anyone wanting to change them against it. The Bidding process and required insurance and bonding is a MUST and protects any entity from issues. You want to fix this issue you will have to get rid of attorneys and politicians. (no offense to my attorney friends). Yes red tape stinks but sad to say a necessity to ensure quality product and work.

      Thursday, 13 August 2015, 12:05 am
  • Becky you 2 can move and leave the county if your not happy. Go back up north with the rest of them.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 2:26 pm
  • Becky – NOT ONE SINGLE TAX PAYER $$$$ is being used to pay for the billboards, advertisements, TV, Radio ads…etc that you see and hear. We are a Political Action Committee that is self funded by raising money through events we hold and donations from people and businesses.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 2:24 pm
  • For me, it isn’t about the money. Its about the education. The board, rather than actually making the modifications to actually bring the local education up to world standards, have caved to the standards set by those more concerned with their authority than the quality of the education they are providing. To get us to buy the crap, they have lied to us time and time again as to the use for the money. Before it was tablets mandated by the state, that turned out to be a huge whopper, and would have been a terrible idea. Now they have over inflated the costs of roofs and air conditioners to get you to authorize more money while while they have actually cut the education opportunities by cutting the math and science coaches.
    The fact is simple. For the last several decades the class room has been aimed at the bottom 25 percent of the students, wasting three quarters of the day for the remaining 75 percent. If I were these students I would just refuse to attend, and I actually did when I was in high school. But that isn’t possible now. We’ve actually criminalized skipping class, an extraordinary abuse of authority. Sorry, I just didn’t feel like wasting my days watching a teacher teach stuff I already knew. Well, give them the money and there will never be a change. It will just get progressively worse.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 1:52 pm
  • Builders pay about $1,100 per residential unit in impact fees. Houses, trailers and about $400 for rec vehicle lots.
    None of it goes to education, however

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 1:05 pm
    • Excuse me. $1,400.

      Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 1:08 pm
  • Eskimo – As a professional myself, I have to attend conventions/classes a few times a year to get my education. I have no control where these are held. There are times where it is helpful to stick around and network with others. From what I understand about this particular meeting, the room was around $150. For a Hyatt in downtown Tampa, that is a steal. Also, the amount that was above the policy-approved rate was paid by the Education Foundation, NOT taxpayer funds. The travel pay for some of the board members is another issue and should be taken up with the board members that took that reimbursement, not all of them did. But, I can understand the employees getting reimbursed for the hotel.

    Redhead – The school board has been pleading for the county to reinstate the impact fees. It is the county commissioners (except for Rowden) that are not allowing the impact fees. The school board has no vote when it comes to the impact fees. Please don’t punish the education system for something the county commissioners are doing.

    Eyesondard – We do have some board members that are questioning things. The meetings are live and they are televised for viewing. Anyone with Brighthouse TV or an internet connection can watch them. You will be able to tell who is questioning things.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 11:15 am
  • Move out Redhead and others who oppose to helping our kids and teachers your a drain on this county. Go get your beer and cigarettes at the dollar store somewhere else.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 9:41 am
  • How many new houses do you see being built redhead?^^^ There were only 329 residential permits pulled for 2014. Let’s say optimistically half those were new homes with $5k impact fees that’s only $800,000 and say bye bye new construction. Piss in a bucket to the half penny tax we were already paying and didn’t notice. Your “that’s how we did it up north” ignorance doesn’t add up.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 9:36 am
  • It severely disturbs me to receive another ballot asking me to vote AGAIN on an issue we, the taxpayers, had already decided. Hernando County residents WERE SMART ENOUGH to know exactly how they were voting on the November 2014 ballot.
    We should all object to our taxpayer dollars being spent on billboards, campaign adds, a second ballot printing and postage, without our approval for an issue the majority of Hernando County voters rejected just 10 months ago. Remember the Spring Hill Fire Department issue. We voted “NO” twice and the County still raised the real estate tax rate for fire service. This is something they cannot raise if we vote “NO” again!

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 8:08 am
  • actually the county didn’t pay a dime for the hotel. there is a grant that takes care of these expenses outside of our county money. I am not saying that everything they do is correct and I will tell you right now I will be there even after the vote to look into how the money is being spent. I will not tolerate government waste and want this county to grow.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 2:55 am
  • If builders had to pay impact taxes Hernando would have plenty for their schools. Every new home I bought in IL suburb had this added to the price. I’m voting NO.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 8:49 pm
  • Rob stars I’m all for the tax. We need it desperately. My family is in education and I have kids in the county. However the school board spending a week at a fancy hotel in Tampa (food, travel expenses….) All on the county dime while we are in a budget crisis is not acceptable. Teachers jobs are on the line and they are living it up? They should be removed from their positions as their mentality is the reason we are here. How do discuss needing more money and firing teachers with a belly full of lobster in a suite at the hyatt!

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 8:21 pm
  • Wake up people. The other major industrial nations have QUALITY education system’s.
    Those emphasize the three ‘R’s’, which produce competitive employment prospects.

    We must eliminate the PC nonsense which is “dumbing down” the youth of America.

    Let’s concentrate on providing basic bedrock education! Cut out the frills.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 7:13 pm
  • First of all look to your school board members (And remember all their positions are voted on by we the people)That’s who decides where and how all the money goes and is spent and dispersed,I do believe all their meetings are televised. What you need is somebody on the school board who questions everything and every penny. Where’s Steve Gladyick???

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 5:21 pm
  • This is not a NEW tax. It is the same tax you were paying for 10 years that expired last year.
    If I may just reply to a few of the comments in order

    Can’t trust local gov- I can understand your frustrations with government but your comments are a bit askew. Don’t muddle one issue with another. This is just about capital improvements the schools need. Read the rest of my comments to further answer some of your concerns you may have not mentioned.

    Sophia – Correct. The County Commissioners added other non school projects to the vote but they have left this vote alone and this is JUST for Schools. NOTHING ELSE
    busdude1, Sam, BringBackCommonSense – remember that without this tax you will be hurting not only the schools but more the students and community. See the rest of the comments as to why.

    Charlie Strayhorn – I don’t know where you got this budget from but the actual budget is $12Million for staffing and $8.7Million for Capital Improvements I have designed $60Million schools for boards…we have No Taj Mahals in Hernando county.

    Tonya Rogers- Don’t cute your nose to spite your face. I understand the bus issue is a BIG issue but that is one of the problems caused by the inequities of the state funding to our county. See my comments later regarding this.

    Eskimo boat – School board members do more work than meet once a month. You want a board that does their due diligence , research and monitors what is going on. It takes more time outside of the one meeting you see each month. If I am correct they get $60K a year. I think the work they do is worth that. Hell. I had a superintendent that was making $300k in Wayne NJ. Yuk.

    Again this is not a new tax. You have been paying this up until last year. In fact for a family that makes $80,000 with 4 family members it only costs $77 a year. That isn’t a lot Check out the tax calculator on to see what it would cost you.

    Joe Spano – You hit the nail right on the head. Let me explain it a bit more for others
    First let’s keep in mind that Back some 10+ years ago Dept of Transportation projected that Hernando County would hit 500k residents. That is one of the reasons I moved to Hernando county to open up a business

    But why didn’t they fix these things before?
    based on the growing and estimated population, previous boards built new schools without Bonding out or adding more taxes…Great..But then the recession hit and with the decline in tax revenue the schools were always playing catch up. Needless to say the hole got deeper and deeper.

    What about the money the State gives us?
    Currently there are legal proceedings regarding the inequities of the state funding formula started in 1973. We are vastly underfunded compared to other municipalities See the article below regarding this.

    What about the Lottery money?
    Directly from the lottery site they show that they gave Hernando county $1.3million in 2013. When you consider the budget mentioned about, that isn’t much.
    They will find money to fix this if it doesn’t pass.
    If you had a job that paid $50,000 salary and you paid your bills, bought food, paid loans…etc with that money. Then I told you that you won’t be paid anymore would you be able to pay bills, fix your car, house…etc. NO. that is what is going on right now. The Schools were using the sales tax money for capital improvements.

    Why do I can so much and Who am I?
    I am nothing more than a resident with kids in Hernando schools, own a home and business here. I don’t work for the board. I am a volunteer helping to Restore the 1/2 Cent for schools. Besides the schools being impacted, property values will eventually be impacted and then businesses.

    So you have been brainwashed by the boards stories!!
    No. I worked for an Architectural firm in New Jersey for 9 years and we were board Architects for 22 school districts. One of my duties was to evaluate EACH school for Reserve studies so that they could project what their needs will be. It took us 2 years to go through each school (200+ schools) and inventory each AC, door knob, stair tread , table..etc and give life expectancy and what it will cost to replace when its life expectancy is up. People have to understand that you just don’t go to Lowes and buy product and have anyone install it. All items need to be commercial grade that will stand up to abuse and they MUST be installed by an approved vendor that is required to be bonded and insured. All of this adds up. Projects are still bid out and you have to abide by state laws required for the bidding process. Straying from this can have legal ramifications.

    I ask all of you to please to go to and read up on this

    For anyone with questions and concerns please feel free to contact me at anytime 352-263-3786

    Don’t believe all the stories
    Knowledge is power
    Bring it back

    Sorry for misspellings but I typed this on my phone. Ughhh.
    Thanks for reading
    Rob Starz

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 4:04 pm
  • Government is like a living organism in that it’s always trying to grow.
    It’s not that the schools won’t get needed repair if the measure doesn’t pass.
    It’s that the money will have to come from things deemed less necessary.
    Often the only way to fix government is to restrict it’s money and cause officials make the needed choices.
    You don’t fix government by giving it more money.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 11:00 am
    • Amen,Amen and Amen!!!!!

      Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 4:03 pm
  • Tom, thanks for the clarification on the “earmarked ” additional funds. Another question: do the Hernando County schools receive any federal grant money for special programs? Just curious.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 9:19 am
  • Busdude2. Your sound like a a future EBT card holder. Guess u need the money for your beer and cigarettes.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 8:21 am
  • The schoolboard makes way more than teachers to meet once a month and decide who to fire so they can keep wasting our money. At a workshop earlier this month, the Hernando County School Board discussed a long list of possible cuts including teacher layoffs, eliminating bus routes and closing schools needed to make up the district’s $12 million budget shortfall.
    The next day, board members Gus Guadagnino, Beth Narverud and Mark Johnson, as well as superintendent Lori Romano, set off for a three-day, two-night Florida School Boards Association Conference at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay hotel in Tampa at taxpayer expense. But let’s fire teachers! Wow!

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 8:02 am
  • It’s a half cent people, it’s for our kids education. Half the population moved here from up north due to the taxes, well what do you think will happen here, yup u guessed it taxes have to go up. If you don’t like it go back up north and pay state income taxes plus other taxes. All the old people that have the time to vote because the working class people are to busy working to get time to vote are ruining this county.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 8:01 am
  • I never saw the survey. Put me down for two no votes.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 7:46 am
  • So my half cent vote goes to help Springhill. No thank you. Ive been struggling with bus transportation for five years on how to get a regular bus route for my kid to even get to school in Brooksville. Then yesterday I find out my kid has no bus route again this year due to cuts. All about Springhill and how to help those schools, but nothing about the schools on the east side of Hernando. Well I will be voting No.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 7:34 am
  • I wish some one would look at the monies collected and allocated to the schools over the last 10 years. I would like to see if it is a case on poor budgeting or decline tax revenue, I’m betting on the second. lack of revenue!!!

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 6:44 am
  • Everyone does realize that just this past January was when they took the half cent away, they never did anything with the money before so why should we bring it back? I went to school from 8th grade until 12, graduate in 2010 and the most they did during that time frame was bring a new cafeteria to Springstead, at my schools anyways. We still used the portables after that, too. I agree with everyone else commenting about that we need leaders that know how to budget money properly.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 5:21 am
  • I meant while children at Moton Elementary have been in portables for that last 10 plus years.

    Monday, 10 August 2015, 9:01 pm
  • Hernando County’s school budget is 110,910,291.00 for the 2014 -2015 school year. I firmly believe that one hundred eleven million dollars is sufficient. Stop building Taj Mahals at one school while Moton Elementary has children in portable classrooms for that last 10 plus years. We need leaders who know how to budget money.

    Monday, 10 August 2015, 8:59 pm
  • More money for trash pickup, more money for the fire Dept. and now an increase in sales tax.It seems someone needs to take control of spending.

    Monday, 10 August 2015, 8:54 pm
    • AMEN! It is always MORE, MORE, MORE!

      Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 10:43 am
  • And doing the vote when the snowbirds are still up north so they can’t vote it down.

    Monday, 10 August 2015, 8:34 pm
    • If they’re residents up north, they aren’t eligible to vote here, anyway. And if they’re permanent residence is here, they can vote via absentee ballot.

      Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 1:00 pm
  • No way no way.

    Monday, 10 August 2015, 8:15 pm

      Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 10:41 am
  • Sadly, if the last election had not combined this with a separate county sales tax increase, the school increase would have passed and would would need the expense of this special election. Oh well.

    Monday, 10 August 2015, 7:56 pm
  • Well heres my half a cent,i would be all for it except we all know it will not go to the schools well some will becouse it has to be justified,but then this commish will need a raise another will need a new escalde another one will need a new addition built on his home and it will get hit and hit and kids will still be walking to and from school in the dark in the morning in the rain,no crossing guards on the main roads where they cross,there will be minumim impact on school children and there will all kinds of reasons why this other dept needed this or that and by the time it passed around on everything but its intention.they will show us the new teacher they hired and while everyones ooohhing and aahhing they will be laying off 3 others.the sheriff will be getting all sorts of new toys for the drunking deputys to pay with.ect ect.

    Monday, 10 August 2015, 7:42 pm
    • This half cent does NOT go to the County Commission. It will go to the School District.

      Tuesday, 11 August 2015, 7:18 pm
  • Thank you Tom Lemons for taking the time to research this proposed tax and providing the information here to voters in a concise manner, and thank you to Eric Williams for making this so clear.

    Monday, 10 August 2015, 7:00 pm

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