Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pinellas County School Board approves $1.5 billion budget, lower tax rate

Pinellas County school officials on Tuesday unanimously approved a $1.5 billion budget including a tax rate decrease for the 2018-19 school year.

The new rate is $6.73 for every $1,000 of taxable property value, a drop from last year's rate of $7.01. It includes a local referendum, a one-half mill tax Pinellas voters have renewed every four years since 2008.

For a home assessed at $250,000, for example, this year's school tax would be $1,514 — $63 lower than last year.

Still, many tax bill are expected to be higher due to a 8.48 percent increase in taxable property values, said Karen Coffey, executive director of budget and resource allocation.

"It is important to note that this is because of an increase in property values, not because of an increase in our millage," she said.

There were no comments made on the budget by the public or School Board members. However, superintendent Mike Grego thanked officials for their careful review of district finances.

"Thank you to the board for your willingness to take time to study the budget," he said.

The new rate will generate $17.8 million more in school district revenue, according to budget documents. The operating fund, which fuels employee salaries and benefits, will grow by $9 million.

The district's capital outlay fund, which pays for construction and major equipment purchases, will increase by $8.8 million from last year, to $315 million.

That includes $52 million to fund renovations at 13 schools, budget documents show. The biggest projects will be at Orange Grove Elementary, Northeast High, Palm Harbor Elementary, Ponce De Leon Elementary, St. Petersburg High and Tyrone Middle.

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.

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