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To Save Education, Gulf County Says Yes to Taxes

March 20th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

Rural Gulf County hugs the coast 100 miles southwest of the state capital. Budget cuts were about to close several schools and 38 jobs were on the chopping block. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, voters in Gulf county chose schools over lower taxes.

At 8.8 percent, unemployment in Gulf County, Florida is just above the state average.

This is a conservative place. George Bush carried the county twice and John McCain won here with 74 percent of the vote.

But with budget cuts about to close schools and cause 38 layoffs, voters here on Tuesday approved a hike in property taxes. Jeanie Day is one of 2400 people who said yes.

Because we need the money to keep our schools like they are and the curriculum and the teachers and the sports, Day said.

The vote was close. 54-46.

The economys bad, Ronald Mayhew said. Everyones cutting back. The schools can do the same thing.

Teacher Aimee Walsh says kids won in the end.

I think, when it comes down to it, people really care about children and care about education, Walsh said.
But Governor Charlie Crist says there is no statewide trend here.

Well, maybe 2400 out of 20 million might be willing to do that, Crist said.

But the superintendent who pushed the tax hike says state lawmakers should get a clue.

We had Alachua County that passed a 1million increase. Youve had Gulf county now pass a 1 million increase, Tim Wilder, Gulf County superintendent said. Youve had Franklin County do a swap with 70 something percent of the vote. Youve had Walton County do a swap with 80 something percent of the vote. So youve not had anybody get beat with this yet. Which tells me that people do care about education.

The higher tax will expire in 4 years.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Children, Economy, Education, Property Taxes, State Budget, State News, Taxes | 1 Comment »

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