Local News

School tax rate may go down

SEBRING - Preliminary numbers show the school property tax rate may go down as the School Board of Highlands County's budget increases with additional state funding. The school board voted July 2 to advertise its tentative budget on July 26 for a public hearing, scheduled for 5:05 p.m. July 29. Preliminary numbers show a 2013-14 budget of $121 million, which is an increase of $3 million from the 2012-13 budget. Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Mike Averyt said, it's "just an estimate, but basically that's a balanced budget."
The number will change because the school board has more budget workshops scheduled and the board can still change the budget, he said. The general fund shows a preliminary increase of $3.1 million to $89.4 million. "We did get more money from the state compared to last year," Averyt noted. The net new funding is $3.3 million, but a lot of that money is earmarked for things like the teacher pay raises. Superintendent Wally Cox said it appears the school property tax rate will be going down. The district's estimate shows a 4 percent decrease in the millage rate. Averyt stressed that the millage rate will likely change somewhat. The district will receive the actual "required local effort" millage rates from the state around July 15, he said. Once the property appraiser certifies the tax rolls to the Florida Department of Education, the "required local effort" will be recalculated. Along with the budget hearing on July 29, the school board will hold a workshop at 4 p.m. to discuss and review its conversion to an electronic agenda followed by the regular school board meeting at 5:30 p.m. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826