TAMPA, Fla. — The unofficial vote count in Hillsborough County for the one millage rate property tax referendum has failed, but the margin is so close, it will trigger an automatic machine recount.
The Supervisor of Elections Canvassing Board is meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday, when members are expected to certify the official vote count.
Florida law requires an automatic machine recount when a vote margin for any candidate or ballot question is under .5%.
A mill is one one-thousandth of a dollar, and in property tax terms is equal to $1.00 of tax for each $1,000 of assessment.
What You Need To Know
- Voters narrowly said no on Hillsborough County tax referendum to fund teacher pay raises
- Hillsborough SOE Canvassing Board meeting to certify vote count
- Primary Election results
For the school district property tax increase, only 619 votes separate the choices of no and yes, a margin of .28%, well under the required .5%.
The property tax increase would have helped Hillsborough County give classroom teachers a raise of up to $4,000, while non-instructional staff would have seen a raise of around $2,000.
A similar ballot question in Pasco County passed, which leaves Hillsborough the only Bay area county to not pass a referendum for teacher raises.
Polk County will vote on a similar referendum in 2024.
Although the results remain unofficial in Hillsborough County, Superintendent Addison Davis says the reality is, the school district is anticipating a tough road ahead to retain current teachers and attract new ones.
“It really continues to be a challenge for us because we have close to 600 instructional vacancies,” Davis said. ”And we have done a really nice job making certain we deploy close to 300 instructional certified staff members from the district level to cover classrooms, but now we have to go back and look at additional strategies to be able to address the growing needs for stability in our school district."
The only hope for the district’s referendum now is that an automatic machine recount decreases the vote margin to under .25%.
If it does, the district would likely request a hand recount of ballots, which could extend well into next week.