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School board a loser on increasing sales taxes

November 27, 2013
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

The Lee County School Board would love nothing better than to increase our sales tax to allow them a free pass instead of looking to cut expenses.

The school budget for building schools is still a healthy $82,363,776 a year. Lee County Commissioners could help considerably by implementing the school impact fees that they cut here awhile back. So the idea that the Lee County School District has to have a sales tax isn't justified by the numbers for additional schools.

So where are the money problems? Could it be the 6 percent more funds that the state is giving to the schools per child. No, that's a revenue, not an expense.

The real estate market fall has knocked about $14 million from the district's revenue side. As the real estate market comes back, the school district would be close to breaking even as far as operations go.

A quick look at the financial records of the school district reveals that they spent in the 2013 period $807 million and took in $793 million. They had forecasted to spend $860 million but actually spent $807 million.

One of the major costs is the $48 million dollars used for student transports. It is amazing that we have this kind of cost to shuffle students from all four corners of Lee County. I can't imagine a school board approving spending this kind of funds to transport students. This is outrageous and desperately in need of cutting. And while the School Board is looking, maybe a lot of other areas need cutting as well. Even replacing retirees with part-time help would be a start.

So what is driving the school district to seek a sales tax? Could it be that the $13 million dollars that the state is donating to the Lee County School District for wage increases which will end up next year having to be paid for by the local taxpayers in the way of a sales tax?

$13 million dollars would have to be made up by someone and it sure looks like the Board will try to push the sales tax as much as possible. Look for the Board to spin all kind of tales for the need for the sales tax, but we already know how the tax money will be spent.

I know you are suppose to give till it hurts but how much more pain can we handle?

Leo Amos




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