BDS tax referendum voted down Tuesday

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 10:54 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - While it was an anxious day in Bay County with several seats up for grabs, Bay District School officials were also eager to see how voters would cast their ballots. The proposed millage rate increase of one mill had received a lot of attention in recent weeks. Now, the results are in.

Out of the 23,908 people that voted on this referendum, 6,032 people, or 25.23%, voted in favor, and 17,876 people, or 74.77%, voted against the tax. Supervisor of Elections Mark Mark Andersen said these results are unofficial until Friday at 10 p.m.

The tax collected from the proposed millage rate increase was said to go toward operational costs, including teacher and district employee salaries, school safety, mental health services, and pre-k programs.

For school board chairman Steve Moss, it’s disappointment he said he feels seeing the results. Moss said as school board members it’s their job to support their teachers and administration, something he said this referendum would have done.

“I think it’s a little hypocritical for some board members to say ‘hey, we love our teachers, we support our teachers,’ but yet come out and oppose a referendum that is going to support our teachers,” said Moss.

Moss says as a school board, they’ll continue to be as creative as they can paying their employees. For others, like Bay County Taxpayers LLC founder Jon Ward, he said he believes the district has other forms of revenue they could use to help pay for these items.

“We just need to hold our elected officials and superintendent accountable and make them do the best they can with the money this state and our local taxes already give them,” said Ward.

Moss says 21 other districts in the state have already voted to approve similar referendums, including Walton and Gulf Counties. He adds he doesn’t expect a new referendum to be on the ballot in Bay County anytime soon. For a full list of results, visit Bay Votes Results.

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