One of those issues that will require immediate attention is the new mandate from Tallahassee regarding at least one school resource officer (SRO) in each school. Presently there are 11 SROs in Martin Schools. With the new mandate, there will need to be 25 at a cost of $3.6 million as compared to $1.2 million now.


Where are the additional funds coming from? You guessed it Martin County taxpayers. At present Florida provides $360,000 to the school system for this cost. The state contribution will increase to $540,000, leaving Martin County on the hook for the difference. Currently the Sheriff provides the SROs, however, he believes he is already short-staffed. Finding an additional 14 deputies will be hard. The law states you either must be a sworn officer or a school board employee in the guardian program.


Perhaps it may be time to look at the school system hiring in-house SRO’s. The Sheriff mandates that each of his deputies have their own patrol car, computer and other extras. If as a SRO they are assigned to the school, it seems that they would not need to have the car and other things. If the SRO was a school system employee, it may be a better fit for our children and cheaper for the taxpayer.


There are also mandated “hardening costs” that must be done before other capital improvements. This will further put back repairs and maintenance. Once again Tallahassee has passed bills with unfunded mandates, which means local authorities must pass the taxing bills needed to carry out state mandates. Don’t forget to thank your legislators for the gift.




At their meeting, the School Board has decided to ask for a half-cent sales tax increase for seven years which will generate $112 million dollars for capital improvements. They also want a half-mil increase in property taxes which will result in $11.2 million yearly for operating costs.


The County and Stuart may be looking for tax increases this year. Taxpayers must ask what services they want to pay to provide. Every road, school and park will need to be maintained once open. Every employee hired has not only a cost today but also into the future. Every vote taken by a board will result in a cost to the taxpayer.