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Hernando School Board passes its $325.6 million budget without major cuts

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando School Board officially put its 2010-11 budget to bed Tuesday evening without resorting to any nightmarish cuts, as officials initially had feared.

The board quickly and unanimously approved the $325.6 million total budget at its final budget hearing. Board member James Yant was absent.

The general fund is $174.2 million. The property tax rate is 7.417 mills, which will generate about $66.77 million in tax revenues.

For a $125,000 home with a $25,000 tax exemption, that tax rate will mean a bill of $741.17. That's $6.20 less than last year.

The district had to deal with a 10.9 percent drop in property values this year, and staffers told the board earlier in the budget process to brace for a nearly $6 million shortfall.

But the picture brightened significantly over the summer when the district nailed down just how many unspent dollars would carry over from last year.

The district saved about $4.3 million by not filling vacant positions and spent about $2 million less than projected for diesel fuel.

The district's millage rate is largely set by the state. But even a few months ago when the outlook was grim, the Hernando board declined to use its power to levy an additional 25 cents per $1,000 of property value for operations, which would have raised an estimated $2.2 million. The board has agreed, however, to ask voters through a referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot for the option to levy the extra millage in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 budget years.

Next year is expected to be even tougher, as property values continue to fall and the district will not have the more than $7 million in federal stimulus dollars it has enjoyed in each of the past two years, chief financial officer Desiree Henegar told the board.

The district's general fund balance for 2010-11 is estimated at $7.52 million. Of that, nearly $3.2 million is unassigned. Those numbers are within the guidelines for reserves set by the state.

"I think with this budget we are being extremely cautious in our funding for next year," Henegar said.

Reach Tony Marrero at tmarrero@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1431.

By the numbers

$325.6M total budget

174.2M general fund

7.417 property tax rate in mills

Hernando School Board passes its $325.6 million budget without major cuts 09/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 9:26pm]
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