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  1. Education

Pinellas set to approve lower school tax rate, but higher property values could drive up tax bills

Pinellas County property owners can expect to see a lower school tax rate this year, but that doesn't mean the school district will be bringing in less money.

At their second and final public hearing on the 2016-17 budget, School Board members will vote today on a proposed rate of $7.32 for every $1,000 of taxable property value. Although lower than last year's rate of $7.77, school district revenues — and many tax bills — will grow because of a 7.4 percent increase in taxable property values. The new rate would bring in $4.3 million more in revenue to a district budget that will total $1.5 billion.

The district plans no increase in a separate tax rate to pay for $7.1 million in construction projects.

During their regularly scheduled meeting held before the public hearing, board members also are expected to approve changes to the district's five-year capital outlay plan.

The total cost of projects in that time is estimated to be $154 million, mainly funded through bonds. Those projects include a new $19.3 million campus for Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg, a $28 million rebuilding and renovation of Pinellas Park Middle and $11.2 million for the future home of Career Academies of Seminole Technical High, expected to open in 2017.

District officials also plan to spend $22 million to buy 40 buses annually in the next five years.