Hamilton County School Referendum

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

The decision to levy a 0.25 percent school district tax on Hamilton County homeowners lies with its voters.

Voting "yes" to this millage rate, means $180,600 toward educating area children.

"Every dime in the budget is critical to the school system," said James Willingham, the attorney for the Hamilton County School system. "The lower revenues get, the less services the school system can provide."

This year state revenues have plummeted to $11.9 million, leaving a $2.6 million gap since 2007, according to Bonnie Penner, with the Hamilton County Business Division.

For homeowners, paying the millage rate amounts to $12.50 a year, said Penner.

That would help fund everything from teacher salaries to preserving the little things.

"How low can we get the air conditioner?" said Willingham. "How high can we set the heat? How much fuel can we allocate to the school buses? How far can all the routes run?"

"It will benefit our children cause we really need the help down here in Hamilton County," said Tammi Jones, who has two children ages 10 and 11 in Hamilton County schools. "Maybe it'll improve our schools."

But if citizens vote against continuing the 0.25 mills for the next two years, officials may be forced to make hard decisions and cut teachers.

"That would be the last place that we would want to cut," said Willingham "But it could mean lights, it could mean supplies. It could mean a lot of things."

But it'll be up to Hamilton County voters to decide whether they can spare the extra money.

Citizens can vote early on this referendum and local and state races at Hamilton County's Board of Elections, which is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


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  • by Optimistic Location: Jasper on Oct 26, 2010 at 06:42 PM
    Either we invest in our future now or we will be debating this in the next few years. Hamilton County and the rest of the Nation is behind in math and science. How are future generations going to compete in a global economy without the proper skill sets? A short sighted view is going to impact everyone. The performance of the school does not rest entirely on the adminstration but dually the students and the parents. The trends show that the future job market without a college education is bleak. To be considered middle class a college education will be a must. Gone are the days of good paying "skilled jobs", the technological age is upon us. EDUCATE THE CHILDREN. VOTE YES!!!
  • by JIM Location: SUWANNEE COUNTY on Oct 13, 2010 at 09:17 AM
    HOW MANY COUNTIES HAVE THIS UP FOR ELECTION IN NOV. SUWANNEE HAS THIS ALSO?
  • by Anonymous on Oct 13, 2010 at 08:45 AM
    Wondering, The big deal over $12.50 fee many is that for the second year in a row their social security income has not gone up. According to the government there is no inflation. Yet everything I buy from food to fuel costs more every time I buy it. In a county where many can not even afford medicine or basic medical care, $12.50 is a LOT OF MONEY. Review the statistics for the county and you will see. Resident, "most" teachers try, that I will give them. You are right about the parental disconnect too. However, A/C is a luxury, something many do not even have in their homes. There are numerous federal paid programs for students that don't speak English as a first language, are we taking advantage of those? What about trying vocational education in high school to keep students in and prepare them for a career? I also agree the administration is top heavy, that would be an excellent place to start trimming. And if the school board members gave back their salary that would also help.
  • by bubba Location: south madison on Oct 13, 2010 at 07:33 AM
    Hey P.O.ed, I agree with you about Madison County. You missed two points though. MCMH presently has no doctors on staff......they use only mid-level nurse practitioners. When the 1/2 cent referendum was passed four years ago it was worded that no money would ever be used for day-to-day operations or salaries. The net result of all the legal and political wrangling was to deposit one million dollars into the hospital's day-to-day operating account from the construction account. Referendum wording included word for word. "Shall a one-half cent sales surtax be imposed in Madison County for the purpose of constructing, improving and paying the indebtedness to be incurred to finance the construction of and capital improvements for a new public or not-for -profit hospital facility in Madison County? The surtax shall not be used to pay the salary of hospital staff or the other day-to-day operating expenses of the hospital facility."
  • by bubba Location: south madison on Oct 13, 2010 at 07:26 AM
    wondering, it is not about a couple of dollars a year.....it is about being scared again into spending more money on our schools when for the past 40 years we have spent more and more and more and more and more and the schools have gotten worse and worse and worse and worse. this money is not for the kids, it is for the principals and administration who get the big salaries while the students and teachers suffer under more regulations and paper work. give the money we now have to the teachers and students and let the teachers teach!!!!!!
  • by resident Location: hamilton co. on Oct 13, 2010 at 07:23 AM
    I'm afraid that heating/freezing our children to death is not the answer, Bob. My child is in this school system and we are blessed with "most" teachers being hard working, caring, and eager to teach our kids. Our poverty stricken county is overrun with parents that do not care if the kids learn or behave in school and immigrants who can't understand let alone speak English and who can't "help" the kids at home. I work with the public in this county so, belive me, I see it everyday. We need to eliminate some of the "high end" desk jobs in our system and put that money where it will better be served.
  • by Bob Location: Jasper on Oct 13, 2010 at 06:11 AM
    I live in Jasper and adamantly oppose the tax. We have some of the lowest performing schools in the state and yet the powers that be think throwing more money at them will help. I grew up in south Florida before A/C was in schools. How high can it go? Shut it OFF! How low can the heat go? Let them wear jackets. Until the school system can show the public that it can actually teach the students it has then we should consider merging with another county (if any would have us) rather then spending more money on a failing system.
  • by truth Location: fl on Oct 13, 2010 at 05:37 AM
    this was a state approved tax that the school board could set for a set number of years.the time has ran out and should have sun set. but once a tax is started they want stop, the only way to keep this tax comming in will be for the voters to approve???
  • by P.O.ed Location: The Capitol on Oct 13, 2010 at 05:24 AM
    Hamilton County should just ask Madison County for the money! Madison County just bought a parcel of land from the hospital for a MILLION DOLLARS and sold it immediately back to the hospital for $100. The hospital bleeds money, doesn't have an accredited lab, and the doctors must come from Leon County. Perhaps Madison County should by a Hamilton County School for a million dollars and sell it back to them for a buck!
  • by Elizabeth Location: Tallahassee on Oct 13, 2010 at 05:00 AM
    wondering, what you don't see is this is a slippy slope,get the toe in the door then what's the BIG DEAL next year and the yr after that. WHERE IS THE LOTTERY MONIES GOING,isn't that what the LOTTERY was suppose to do?? MONIES GOING TO EDUCATION???? anyone whom buys a lottery ticket is a fool. Pulled the wool over the eyes of Floridians with this LOTTERY CON
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