BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay District School officials have been discussing a proposed property tax referendum for some time now.
With some public scrutiny on how the district is allegedly promoting the ‘tax proposal’, Superintendent Husfelt held a news conference to clear the air.
Bay District School officials are asking voters to approve this 1-mil property tax increase to help pay for school security, mental health services, salary increases, and Pre-K programs.
They began handing-out what they’re calling ‘informational pamphlets’ this week, explaining what the tax increase would do for the district.
Local Dermatologist Dr. Jon Ward has been an outspoken critic of the tax proposal and the way the school district is handling its informational efforts.
“Granted it doesn’t say vote for or against it but all it has is checkmarks and then why you should vote for it. The top thing says fund significant raises for all employees. To me, that struck as incredibly unethical.” said Dr. Jon Ward.
“Tell me what you want me to say negative about it? It increases taxes,” said Superintendent Husfelt.
Ward says he’s been contacted by multiple district employees, all saying the same thing.
“Like oh, they just called a meeting with bus drivers during work hours. They’re getting information in their teacher’s mailboxes, is this ok? They’re telling me they feel pressured.” said Ward.
“During their workday, they were working for us. They work for us. We do training and staff meetings all the time and give information.” said Superintendent Husfelt.
Many community members are calling the pamphlets ‘campaign material’. The district says it is strictly informational.
“They were paid for by the district. I think it was 180 dollars is what we spent on this. Again it is informational, nowhere on this does it say vote for this or vote against it.” said Superintendent Husfelt.
“You can’t use public funds for campaigns. That’s also prohibited by law,” said Ward.
“We don’t have any political advertising. If you look up the definition we haven’t done any of that,” said Superintendent Husfelt.
Instead of voting yes on the April referendum, Ward says he will be voting no.
“I think it reeks of public corruption. I honestly think that Superintendent Husfelt should resign,” said Ward. “We need people who are looking at where the budget can be cut and where we are spending too much and reassign that into places where we are really making a difference in students’ lives,” said Ward.
School board members, on the other hand, are hoping voters will see the need and pass the tax increase.