Elections office: Jax school tax vote may be dead letter for 2019
Time is running out for a 2019 vote.

"Logistically impossible"

Based on the read of the Duval Supervisor of Elections office, the dream looks to be dead for advocates of a 2019 school tax referendum in Jacksonville.

A meeting of the Duval County Election Advisory Panel Wednesday saw an SOE employee outline why that vote probably won’t happen this year.

That’s a blow for those who want immediate capital funds for Jacksonville’s long-suffering public schools.

The Duval County School Board wants a 2019 vote on a half-cent sales surtax, given legislative attempts to create a supermajority requirement for a sales tax vote may recur in 2020.

However, the City Council won’t move the bill, creating an impasse that has occupied a Jenga stack of news cycles this summer, and a narrative that has moved like “Waiting for Godot.”

And now the play may as well close.

The process delays, suggest the election panel’s meeting minutes, mean it’s over for this year.

Among the non-negotiables from the Supervisor of Elections office: “no less than 120 days, of lead time to prepare.”

“Supervisor Hogan has said that at this point November 2019 is not impossible, but is highly improbable given the time frame. The office needs at least 1.5 months to train 1,900 poll workers before the election if that’s the method chosen. First they have to be recruited (since a fall 2019 election was not previously on the schedule) and polling locations must be lined up,” read the minutes.

Vote-by-mail: a non-starter, given “650,000 or more” mail ballots and a “massive signature verification process depending on the response rate.”

A December vote? The Lord may disapprove.

“So many polling places are churches that will likely be very busy leading up to the Christmas holiday,” the minutes assert.

If the City Council were inclined to move the bill, the discussion would be less academic; however, what is clear is that the School Board has failed to catalyze that action, with a Wednesday joint meeting between the two elected legislative bodies showing mutual irritation.

Council President Scott Wilson questioned the viability of the proposal, saying “I don’t see how the School Board and the City Council can pass this in 2019,” Wilson said, wanting “legwork.”

School Board members chastised the Council for inaction — but to no avail.

Whether it’s because Council stalled the bill or because the School Board lacks the ability to play City Hall politics, the message from the Supervisor of Elections is simple: it’s probably not happening this year.

Two City Council committees take up (again) the bill on Tuesday. However, the Finance Committee largely lines up with Mayor Curry, and even if the Rules Committee were to push out the 2019 vote, the bill would still have to be discharged from Finance for the full Council to vote.

With the City Council President not sold, that would be a heavy lift.

A ruling in a similar case in Clay County rendered Thursday suggests that a legislative body has a “reasonable” ability to investigate a school board tax referendum before putting it on the election ballot.

The law lacks an enforcement mechanism to compel a vote, leaving the matter frustratingly subjective.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Sonja Fitch

    August 16, 2019 at 10:56 am

    So does this mean that the city is financially responsible for any and all accidents in schools by the arbitrary decision to hold up the tax increase caused from delaying improvements? Are the school employees effected by the hazardous conditions going to be able to hold the city council
    responsible for medical liability? Supervisor of elctions financially liable for the city council decisions? Stay in your lane looting Lenny and city council!

  • Seber Newsome III

    August 16, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    From the actions of the school superintendent by removing the teacher from First Coast school, because of what he wrote on the white board, which was not offensive at all because the students would not stand for the pledge of allegiance, they dont deserve any tax payer money for improvements. Jacksonville is a military town, yet the superintendent of schools does not want students to stand for the pledge of allegiance. No Tax increase for the schools, period. It will be defeated by the military town of Jacksonville, I guarantee it.

  • cvv shop cc index

    August 26, 2019 at 8:01 am

    It’s great that you are getting thouցhts from thgis post aas well as from ourr dialogue made here.

Comments are closed.


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