Jacksonville mulls school funding from sales tax
by Eddie Burkhalter
Mar 26, 2012 | 3248 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Jacksonville City Council on Monday discussed giving the city school system a one-time payment of $80,000 from the city’s 1 cent sales tax.

The proposal, if approved, would give Jacksonville City Schools a lump sum from this year’s revenue from the tax, but wouldn’t prohibit the school system from returning to ask for more funding from next year’s revenue.

Earlier this year, the council passed a 1 cent sales tax to help pay for a new public safety complex. The move means residents now pay a total of 10 cents tax on every dollar spent in the city.

From the beginning, the city advertised the sales tax increase as a way to help pay for the safety complex – which will house new fire and police departments, a jail, municipal courthouse and city hall offices – and provide a boost to the city’s school system.

But the council has yet to determine what portion of the revenue will go to schools.

The sales tax increase has brought in $341,000 for the city since it took effect in December, Mayor Johnny Smith said.

School supporters have asked the city to split the tax 50-50 with the schools, but the council voted to approve the tax without setting a percentage, with council members saying they wanted to wait until they knew the full cost of the public safety complex. The cost for the project has been estimated at between $8 million and $10 million.

The architects working on plans for the safety complex are expected to have them ready to view by next week, Smith said, but the city will not know the final cost of the project until after the work is bid and bids have been opened.

“I feel like it’s time,” Smith said of making the payment to the schools. No council member objected to the payment, and Smith said the topic would likely come up during the next work session.

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