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Lee County School Board moves forward on half-cent sales tax bump referendum

Posted at 11:17 PM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 23:17:00-05

The Lee County School Board moved voted 6-1 in favor of moving forward with a ballot referendum to increase sales tax by one half-cent.

Melisa Giovanelli was the only board member to oppose the referendum.

More than 30 people voiced their opinions before the board on both sides of the issue of raising the sales tax to 6.5 percent.

"I have to be here fighting for my babies and their future. Now I have to fight for my pocketbook, too. Not a fan. Not a fan," Lee County parent Lisa Cohen said.

"As a community, it's our civic responsibility to provide for our schools and the children they serve," Paula Kiley of Lee County said.

The board said the extra half-cent could bring in as much as $59 million a year to fund schools for the county's swelling population.

"This is a great investment for kids. That's how I would convince them," Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said.

"If we really care about our students and giving them the best possible education, then we must invest in their future," David Crawford of Lee County said.

"You guys should be ashamed of yourselves," Cohen said to the board. "I'm ashamed of you."

The board said it'll request the issue to appear on a special election ballot referendum in May despite opposition from many that as much as $800,000 in extra money will be spent to do it that way versus the November general election.