For Pinellas County residents, the portion of next year's property tax bill that goes toward public education will probably be less than this year's.
At the first of two public hearings Wednesday, school officials announced they could get by next year with $3.4-million less than this year and tentatively approved a slightly lower tax rate for 1996-1997.
School Superintendent Howard Hinesley said the budget decrease was achieved by cutting 30 positions and charging for some programs the school district had offered for free in the past. For 1996-1997, the school district has tentatively approved a budget of $832.2-million.
If the budged is finalized, the owner of a home valued for tax purposes at $85,000 with a $25,000 homestead exemption will pay $550.56 in school district taxes, or $9.18 less than this year.
Homeowners' total tax bills will not necessarily be less, however. Other taxing agencies may increase their rates, or the property's taxable value may rise.
About two dozen people attended Wednesday's public hearing. Following a budget presentation, Louis Frangipane of the South Pinellas Community Council questioned the more than $2-million budgeted for new school buses.
"If we did not have to bus for integration, we could avoid this," Frangipane said.
He asked Hinesley to pursue lifting a federal court order that requires all schools to comply with minimum and maximum numbers of minority students.
The School Board will vote a final time on the budget and tax rate at a special meeting scheduled for 7 p.m., Sept. 11. The meeting will be at the Pinellas School Administration Building, 301 Fourth St. SW, in Largo.
Figuring your taxes
Pinellas School Superintendent Howard Hinesley has proposed a 1996-1997 tax rate of 9.176 mills, which is 0.19 percent less than this year's rate of 9.329 mills. A mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed taxable property value. To determine your school district taxes, take the assessed value of your home and subtract the $25,000 homestead exemption if you qualify. Divide that number by 1,000 and multiply by 9.176.