Florida school districts prepare to set tax rates
It's that time of year when school boards across Florida convene to approve local property tax rates that the state government tells them to adopt.
Boards are still formulating their spending plans, with leaders in several districts saying the state support for schools -- even at its highest since 2007-08 -- is barely enough to make ends meet. During the next few weeks, though, the boards will take the required step of advertising their maximum tax rates in advance of public budget hearings.
The rates are controlled by a state-set required level of spending, which keeps property wealthy districts from significantly outspending property poor ones. Some districts, such as Pinellas and Sarasota, have a voter approved added tax to supplement the basic rate. But others do not.
In advance of the district actions, the Florida Department of Education sent out a document listing each county's required local effort and certified millage rate, which boards really have no authority to exceed. The lowest is in the Keys, where Monroe's rate is $1.721 per $1,000 of assessed value. The highest belongs to neighboring Miami-Dade, at $4.795 per $1,000. (Key difference: One has just over 8,000 students to educate, while the other needs to cover more than 355,000.)
Where does your district fall on the list? In the Tampa Bay area, Pasco County has the lowest rate at $4.525 per $1,000, with only 11 districts statewide lower. Pinellas is listed at $4.562 per $1,000, with Hernando at $4.603 and Hillsborough at $4.652.