The Hernando School Board will not have the power to raise the district's property tax rate in the next two budget years.
Hernando voters overwhelmingly rejected a countywide referendum Tuesday that would have given the board the ability to raise the rate by 25 cents for every $1,000 of taxable value in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 budget years.
With all 57 precincts reporting, 68.2 percent of voters said no to the referendum.
The so-called critical operating needs millage levy would have meant an additional $25 on the bill of a home assessed at $100,000 after the homestead exemption. The levy would not have been automatic. The board would have had to approve the additional millage with a super-majority vote.
The levy would have allowed the board to bolster the general fund by an estimated $2 million. But voters beleaguered by the recession were apparently in no mood to consider even the chance of a tax rate increase, said board Chairman Pat Fagan.
"It was bad timing with the economic conditions," Fagan said. "We're just going to have to take a very close look at the budgets, make some hard decisions and go forward."
Superintendent Bryan Blavatt, the president of the local teachers union and School Board members hoped voters would have approved Tuesday's referendum to give the board a tool to bring in more money if the budget picture is as dire as expected in the next couple of years.
Among the serious financial concerns looming is the added expense to meet class size requirements.