Chamberlain High to be among the first to benefit from sales tax hike

Money will go to schools and transportation

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Tampa’s Chamberlain High School is showing it’s age.

“It was built in 1956. It’s pretty old,” said principal Jake Russell. “I still think it has a lot of character.”

But Russell says repairs here are desperately needed.

There is peeling paint, a beat up court, and most importantly an air conditioning system that struggles to keep students cool.

“I’m sweating. I can’t concentrate on my work,” said senior Darien Baker.

Chamberlain will be one of the first to see improvements from the half-cent sales tax that begins January 1.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins got a hero’s welcome back at the district offices the day after the referendum passed.

He says there are more than 1,700 hundred projects that will be spread out over the next 10 years.

“So the schools that have been waiting the longest have been first up,” said Eakins.

Meanwhile, the group behind the penny sales tax for transportation and road improvements celebrated success Tuesday as well.

They say there is a $9 billion backlog for road and transit projects, and the fixes won’t happen overnight.

The first improvements will come to the bus system with added routes. 

While opponents say the plan only benefits downtown Tampa’s business district, supporters of the referendum say work will be done to roads all over the county.

“We have waited too long to invest in the type of transportation system that people in Hillsborough County deserve and they are going to see a return on their investment quickly,” said All For Transportation Chairman Tyler Hudson.

With the sales tax going up to a state high 8.5%, the school district says the average family is expected to pay an extra $180 a year.

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