• Overview of the Half-Cent Sales Tax Program – “From Inception to 2019”

    1997 Referendum

    The voters of Escambia County initially approved a half-cent sales surtax for the school district facilities capital outlay needs in 1997 for a period of five years. The voters approved a second referendum extending the half-cent sales surtax an additional five years through December, 2007.

    The projected revenue was anticipated at $14 million per annum with an equitable distribution between each of the five school districts within Escambia County.

    Projects completed in the first five years of the half-cent sales tax program included a new school (Blue Angels Elementary), general renovations to our older schools, additions, sitework and safety improvements.

    In addition to the original budgeted project list totaling $70 million, there were two reallocations of funds for additional projects which utilized additional funds from projects which were completed under budget, additional revenue collected above the projected revenue and from accrued interest. The following summarizes the first five year projects:

    Original projects scheduled 56 projects $70 million
    First reallocation of funds 24 projects $18.7 million
    Second reallocation of funds 34 projects $10.4 million
    Totals 114 projects $99.1 million

    The second reallocated budgeted projects were approved by the Board on May 18, 2004.

    2002 Referendum

    The second five years of the sales tax program (referred to as the sales tax extension projects), approved for 2003-2007, included several major goals and was met with resounding approval by the voters of Escambia County. One of the major goals was to replace noisy, inefficient window air conditioning units with central air conditioning systems in all classrooms in the school district. The other major goal was to provide funding to maintain the integrity of the educational environment of all schools through a data driven asset management roofing program. The five year roofing program provided a methodical schedule of preventative maintenance, repair and replacement of roofs on district facilities based on a comprehensive assessment and recommendations by a professional roofing consultant.

    In addition, the second five years of the half-cent sales tax program provided for a multitude of other projects including new media centers, major renovations, athletic additions/improvements, paving and sitework projects.

    Unfortunately, Hurricane Ivan’s devastation in September, 2004 interrupted the schedule of the sales tax extension projects for approximately 1 to 1½ years. These projects were re-engaged in January, 2006 along with the second reallocation of the 1997 sales tax projects. The following summarizes the 2003 sales tax extension projects:

    Building projects scheduled 101 projects $61.7 million
    Roofing projects scheduled 57 projects $8.0 million
    Land acquisition budgets 2 projects $.8 million
    Totals 160 projects $70.5 million

    2008 Referendum

    In 2007 the voters of Escambia County approved a third renewal of the half-cent sales surtax for schools with voter approval in excess of 70%. The 2008 renewal, unlike the previous two is for ten (10) years instead of the original five year blocks.

    The District is currently working on projects scheduled from proceeds of the seventh and eight years of the current ten year renewal. The 2008 renewal has provided financial capital resources at a time when state provided Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funding was reduced to zero in 2010.

    The following summarizes the 2008 sales tax extension project renewal:

    Building projects scheduled 61 projects $127.2 million
    Roofing projects scheduled 36 projects $4.5 million
    Totals 97 projects $131.7 million


    A new downtown elementary school (Global Learning Academy) was completed in 2011 along with classroom additions to reduce the number of relocatable units (portables) in use at Bellview Elementary, McArthur Elementary, Ransom Middle, and Workman Middle. Two new schools designed to replace the aging A.K. Suter Elementary School and Ernest Ward Middle School are presently under construction. Both new schools are funded entirely from the current renewal. A third elementary school programmed to address north county growth projections is also in the planning phase.

    2018 Referendum

    The fourth generation of sales tax referendum and second consecutive 10 year referendum extension was passed in 2014. The 2018 sales tax extension went into effect January 1, 2018.

    Annual sales tax proceeds continue to increase in Escambia County. Still under the cautious oversight of the District Sales Tax Watch Dog Committee, now in its 20th year of existence, the District has refined project lists with particular emphasis on physical security, facility parity and aging facility replacement. The following summarizes the first four (4) years of the 2018 sales tax extension projects.

    Building projects scheduled 23 projects $95 million
    Roofing projects scheduled 55 projects $9 million
    Bond Instruction Service 3 projects $60 million
    Totals 81 projects $164 million
    Capital Outlay Projects 63 projects $3.5 million