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Hernando School Board approves 2012-13 budget, millage rate

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Board on Tuesday evening approved the district's 2012-13 budget on a 5-0 vote.

During the final public hearing on the budget, there was minimal discussion from the board.

The budget includes roughly $5.5 million in reserves, which is roughly 3.82 percent of the general fund revenues, said chief financial officer Desiree Henegar.

That's a good thing.

Districts that allow their reserve fund to fall below 3 percent are placed on the state watch list. And if a district falls below 2 percent, the state has the right to come in and start telling it how to make cuts, superintendent Bryan Blavatt said.

The district was on the watch list last year.

Although district officials, including Henegar, are hardly excited about the amount in reserves, the financial picture has improved since the budget was first presented in late May.

Henegar said the financial picture is "much better" than at first.

During the first public meeting, the reserve was estimated at about $2.95 million, roughly 2.06 percent of estimated general fund revenues.

Blavatt says the reserve represents substantial scrimping, saving and cutting.

Hernando Classroom Teachers Association president Joe Vitalo, who negotiates teacher salaries with the district, says the district has even more reserve dollars than it appears. The district builds a significant safety net by placing reserve money in line items, Vitalo said. One place: unfilled positions. The district allocates money for the positions, then rolls the money over when the year is over, he said.

Also at Tuesday's budget hearing, the School Board unanimously approved the proposed property tax rate of 7.454 mills for 2012-13. That means someone with a $125,000 home and a $25,000 homestead exemption would pay $745.40 in property taxes to the district, a slight decrease from last year, presuming the value of the property remained the same.

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 226-3386.

Hernando School Board approves 2012-13 budget, millage rate 09/18/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 7:39pm]

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