WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County community took to social media to weigh-in on the possibility of the half-cent sales tax.
Washington County School Board Superintendent Joseph Taylor, as well as, School Board chairwoman Susan Roberts have called the tax "a fair tax." The School Board in general favors the tax. However, the public has differing views.
"Enough is enough on the tax hikes. Manage the money better with what you got," wrote Billy Worley. "There's too much tax being robbed from the hard working people in this county already."
Taylor has repeatedly stated that no one likes taxes; however, advocating for the tax, he has reminded School Board members and the public that the district has shown itself responsible and accountable over existing funds - something a recent state mandated audit on technology and capital projects demonstrated. He said he planned to schedule school tours to further illustrate how and where the funds could be used.
Vernon City Council Mayor Tina Sloan spouted words of confidence in the commitment of the school district to use the tax money in a way most beneficial to students and the future of the county. She also curbed some of the political angst popping up on the thread.
"No one wants more or increased taxes; but we all want our children and grandchildren to be educated and successful," Sloan wrote. "I’ve heard people say ‘But I don’t have kids in the school system.’ Where do people think our leaders, our doctors, our builders and our dreamers of tomorrow are coming from?"
Politically speaking, she added, "The commissioners are not assessing the tax - they are giving us - the citizens - the opportunity to decide. The school board are doing their job. They are looking to the future of our children."
One issue on the Facebook thread birthed the notion that the money would be used to fund athletics in some way. It's important to note that is a false idea; the monies garnered from the surtax would be earmarked for capital outlay projects and technology improvements.
The surtax is a common one several school districts pick up in order to make improvements - mostly capital improvements - across their districts. Washington County School District recently made the proposal to Washington County Board of Commissioners in order to get the referendum on the August ballot.
Other opinions varied, including contempt for taxes in general and nods to civic engagement that informs the democratic process.
"Taxation is theft," Chip Goodson wrote.
"For everyone saying the taxes keep getting raised or there is no transparency or you have no voice...my question to you is, when is the last time you sat in a (Washington County Board of Commissioners) meeting? The board is really good at soliciting and listening to the community inputs," wrote former County Administrator Hank Hamilton. "Be active in your local government," he wrote at the end of his post.
The recommendation passed its first public hearing. Superintendent Joseph Taylor has been making the case for the tax at municipal meetings, and is scheduled to do a presentation at Thursday's Washington County Chamber of Commerce meeting to be held at 12 p.m. noon at Northwest Florida Community Hospital.