Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Pasco School Board to consider asking lawmakers to leave property tax rates alone

For the past three years, Florida lawmakers have forced local school districts to decrease their local property tax rates so the revenue does not exceed collections from the previous budget cycle.

Their rationale has been that any increase would represent a tax hike, even if the tax rate remained unchanged.

Pasco County School Board vice chairwoman Alison Crumbley calls that logic a bunch of spin. And she wants her colleagues to demand change from the Legislature.

"I am so tired of sitting here and having the same conversation," Crumbley said at a recent board session. "Our hands are tied."

At her request, the district staff has drafted a resolution for the board to consider at its Oct. 16 meeting. It urges the Legislature and governor to maintain the "required local effort" tax rates, and not impose the rollback rate to keep income static as property values rise.

Such a move would provide "critically needed increased revenue to operate public schools without raising taxes," the document states.

The issue has proven a bone of contention in the past. First, some lawmakers argued they did not want to have the majority burden of funding public education on local taxes.

Related coverage: Gov. Rick Scott and Legislature on collision course over school funding

Later, they suggested that the growth of property values should support the services.

During the 2018 legislative session, Gov. Rick Scott and the state Senate called for the same action, noting it could provide about a half-billion dollars into school district coffers, allowing for pay raises, program enhancements and rising costs of operations.

House leaders, however, insisted that the tax rates shrink and that schools set priorities to live within their existing revenue streams.

Related coverage: Florida House, Senate education budgets differ by $538m, with split over taxes 

"When a taxpayer is forced to pay more money this year than last year – through no action of their own – it's a tax increase," then Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Pasco County Republican, said to open the session.

Pasco district officials have pointed out that the decision to cut the tax rate over three years by 83 cents per $1,000 of taxable value meant the district received about $21.8 million less than it would have if nothing had changed.

Districts throughout Florida felt proportional impacts.

That money, they contend, could be used to benefit Florida children, whose numbers have increased even as the amount of local money to educate them has held steady.

Districts do get added per-student funding from the state as enrollment rises. But budget writers have noted the need to make some difficult spending decision because of limited funds and a list of mandates they must meet.

Pasco School Board members, who have debated ways to pay employees more, have said they want to take advantage of the county's rapid growth to improve their bottom line.

"It's not a tax increase," Crumbley said.

Read the resolution for more information.

Comments
Pasco school district gets strong credit ratings for upcoming issue

Pasco school district gets strong credit ratings for upcoming issue

In advance of selling $67.5 million in certificates of participation, the Pasco County school district sent several high level officials to New York to pitch for a good credit rating.The effort paid off, chief finance officer Olga Swinson told t...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Pasco County school employee contract talks turn to salaries

Pasco County school employee contract talks turn to salaries

After a two month break while awaiting updated financial data, negotiators for Pasco County school employees and the district administration return to bargaining this week, with plans to start talking pay.The United School Employees of Pasco intends ...
Published: 10/17/18
Florida education news: Turnarounds, rebuilding, funding and more

Florida education news: Turnarounds, rebuilding, funding and more

TURNAROUNDS: Hernando County's long struggling Moton Elementary School takes advantage of a state "Hope" grant to establish a family resource center for its students and parents. The goal is to help with issues outside school that impact academi...
Published: 10/17/18
Lee Elementary — or whatever it will ultimately be called — will be rebuilt in Tampa

Lee Elementary — or whatever it will ultimately be called — will be rebuilt in Tampa

Things have come full circle as the Hillsborough County School District moves ahead to rebuild fire-ravaged Lee Elementary School.The board on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan that the district negotiated with its insurers that pays full cost of b...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Pasco School Board, teachers take stands for improved education funding

Pasco School Board, teachers take stands for improved education funding

Stating the need for increased funding, about a dozen Pasco County teachers rallied Tuesday outside the school district headquarters for candidates and issues they say support public education."I believe that's what this year's election should really...
Published: 10/16/18
Florida superintendents association sets up account to help hurricane-hit school districts

Florida superintendents association sets up account to help hurricane-hit school districts

Hurricane Michael blasted at least 10 north Florida school districts, razing some campuses and leaving others unusable.Seven districts — Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Jackson, Liberty and Washington — remain closed indefinitely, a...
Published: 10/16/18
Florida education news: Sales tax, scholarships, ballot language and more

Florida education news: Sales tax, scholarships, ballot language and more

SALES TAX: With limited funding, the campaign for a Hillsborough County schools sales tax increase relies on parent volunteers to get the word out. If approved, the revenue will pay for air conditioning repairs, among other construction and main...
Published: 10/16/18
Amendment 8 ballot language was ‘defective,’ Florida Supreme Court rules

Amendment 8 ballot language was ‘defective,’ Florida Supreme Court rules

The Florida Supreme Court removed Amendment 8 from the November 6 ballot because it failed to inform voters of its true purpose, the court stated in its opinion on the matter, released Monday."That the ballot summary is unclear is best demonstrated b...
Published: 10/15/18
Scholarship letters begin circulating for bullied Florida students

Scholarship letters begin circulating for bullied Florida students

Fifteen days after their official launch, Florida's new tax credit scholarships for students who claim being bullied in public school have begun being offered.Families that report any of 13 types of incidents, as outlined in law, are gettin...
Published: 10/15/18
When do Florida schools take buses off the roads?

When do Florida schools take buses off the roads?

35 miles per hour.That's the wind speed at which the Florida Department of Education has recommended school districts start pulling buses off the road, for safety's sake.The department sent the message to districts as Hurricane Michael churned n...
Published: 10/15/18