Pinellas schools propose tax rate increase
A draft of the district's proposed 2009-10 budget is now out and you can see it here. It calls for a new tax rate of $8.35 for every $1,000 of taxable value, up from last year’s rate of $8.06.
For a home valued for taxing purposes at $225,000, school taxes would total $1,669 under the proposed rate, up from $1,612 last year.
But with plunging property values, the proposed hike still adds up to a budget that is smaller than last year's. The recommended operating budget is $889.1 million, down from $908.7 million last year - and that includes $37.7 million in federal stimulus money.
Property values fell by 11 percent in Pinellas last year, or $8.7 billion. That’s on top of a $1.6 billion dip the year before.
Much of the school tax rate is set by the state. And continuing a 9-year trend, the state is again forcing school districts to pay a greater share of education funding next year.
But the district is also proposing an increase of its own, taking advantage of power granted by the Legislature last spring to temporarily raise rates by $25 for every $100,000 of a property’s assessed taxable value. School board members say the move is needed to offset a projected $19 million shortfall that remained even after they cut next year's budget by $37.5 million.
The first budget hearing is next Tuesday at 7 p.m. The second hearing is Sept. 15.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter