Will Palm Beach County School Board join county in sales tax push?

Image (2) Money%20stacks-thumb.jpg for post 1226The Palm Beach County School Board is slated to formally join the county government today in pitching a 1-cent sales tax increase to voters this fall.

But will board members move ahead or get cold feet and go it alone?

After voting 5-2 last month to join the county government on a joint sales tax push, some board members are said to be wavering in support after county commissioners made a key change to the agreement.

To placate a coalition of business leaders, county commissioners decided two weeks ago to allow that $40 million of future sales tax money would be put into a fund for future “economic development” projects.

That money would go on top of $121 million in sales tax money that the school board and county commission already agreed to set aside as subsidies for private museums and cultural centers. On Sunday, a Palm Beach Post story raised new questions about how that money was carved up.

READ MORE: Editorial: On sales tax hike, school district should weigh solo route

Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa tells Extra Credit that some school board members have expressed concerns about the county commission’s change, fearing that the uncertainty of how that money would be spent might turn off voters.

“A few board members have shared their concerns about the ambiguities of (the new spending plan),” he said.

Avossa added that The Post’s report on Sunday, which revealed that the subsidies for cultural institutions was divvied up by people with ties to some benefiting institutions, had “rattled some cages.”

Also unnerving some people, a new opposition poll suggesting that voters would likely vote down the sales tax proposal.

Those concerns could boost the calls by two school board members, Mike Murgio and Karen Brill, for the school board to seek a sales tax increase on its own.

It’s not clear whether the latest developments will weaken the school board’s support, though.

Reached this week, board members Marcia Andrews and Debra Robinson said they still supported moving forward with the county commission.

“I’m going to stick with it until I’m given a reason to move in another direction,” Andrews said.

You can read the agreement with the county that they will consider signing here.

 

 

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