LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County Schools may have to tap the taxpayers to cough up more money, to cope with population growth and budget shortfalls. The schools need millions for better maintenance, more schools, and computer-based learning.
"This is critical, our number one challenge really. We need to invest in the schools, we are training our future work force," says school board member Mary Fischer.
WINK News obtained a document on Capital Funding Issues in the Lee district. It says: workers have to rotate full maintenance at schools, because the budget is short. The district also needs about 20-million dollars a year for 10 years, to make the transition to digital education. And it needs at least seven new schools in the next 10 years, at a cost of $144 million.
Some, like Fischer, favor a half-penny increase in the sales tax of 6 percent. That would collect the tax from everyone, not just property owners, and would require tourists to foot some of the bill. That would require a vote of the people to approve. Fischer says she would like to have it on the ballot this November.
Another option is to raise the property taxes in Lee. Omer Borque does not like that,
"No, no, absolutely not," he says. "It is hard enough to make it on a fixed income. No more taxes. If they do it, I just might have to move out of Lee County."
Still another option is to increase class size, even if that means earning a fine from the state.
School board members also will talk with Lee commissioners about re-instating the impact fees, that were cut sharply a year ago, according to Fischer.