A decade ago community leaders recognized that the Leon County Schools infrastructure was in danger of crumbling into disrepair absent a means to adequately fund necessary repairs and construction. The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce took the lead in urging voter approval of a half-cent sales tax to support our schools’ capital needs. Citizens responded by approving the half-penny measure and, as a result, for the past 10 years our schools have been the beneficiaries of $184 million in revenues that otherwise would not have been available to help fund needed capital projects. Almost one-third of that amount — or about $61 million — has been paid by people who live outside the county. Because of the availability of these funds, school facilities throughout the county have been renovated and remodeled, maintenance has been stepped up and several new schools have been built.
Over the past decade our economy has taken a sharp nosedive and lots of people have struggled to make ends meet. During this time, the building and maintenance work on our schools made possible by the half-penny also has provided another benefit to Leon County. Spending those dollars in our community has boosted the local economy by providing work for suppliers, contractors and other businesses working on school projects.
At a time when the half-penny tax is set to expire at the end of 2012, the current and anticipated needs facing our schools are more critical than ever. Because of the age, condition and ongoing wear-and-tear on educational facilities, our county school system cannot maintain adequate facilities for our children without continuation of the half-penny. The Chamber of Commerce again is out front in examining our schools’ needs — and in supporting renewal of the half-penny by voters in the upcoming November general election.
For more information: Leon County Half-Cent Sales Tax for Schools Report to the Public – September 2012