Brevard School Board OKs budget with lowest tax rate since 1998
MELBOURNE, Fla. – ?Brevard School Board members adopted the 2014-15 budget and tax rate at the final budget hearing Thursday, including one of the lowest property tax rates in recent school district history.
Officials approved the maximum rate allowed by state law, without voter referendum: $7.34 per $1,000 of taxable value.
Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported that it's the lowest it's been since the rate peaked in 1998, with a $9.58 per $1,000 of taxable value, said Judy Preston. Brevard's associate superintendent for financial services.
"It'll help our homeowners," school board member Michael Krupp said. "It lessens the tax burden."
But that doesn't lessen the need for the half-cent sales tax, which goes to voters in November, Krupp said. If approved, it would raise about $32 million for school buildings, security and technology.
"We're at repair at failure," Krupp said of building repairs put off in lean years. "It's as if you drive a car until the wheels fall off, and you never did any preventative maintenance."
Still, with an increase in the county's property tax roll, Brevard Public Schools is expecting additional property tax revenue this year. The tax roll grew by 8.8 percent, from $28.7 billion to $31.3 billion.
"Fortunately we do think we're growing," Preston said. "We've turned a corner."
The district expects to collect about $220 million in property taxes, up $10.5 million from the previous school year.
Money will be split: About $6.8 million will go to the operating budget, which pays for day-to-day expenses like salaries, and $3.6 million to the capital budget, which pays for things like building maintenance.
Preston cautioned that the additional operating money is not a windfall, because of how the state per-student funding formula works.
"The state is counting on us having it," Preston said. "They know that we're going to raise that money, so they don't have to put in as much."
However, homeowners could see taxes go up or down this year, depending on changes in property value.
On a $100,000 home with a homestead exemption and no change in valuation, taxes will decrease by $20.02, from $570.45 to $550.43.
On that same home with an increase in assessed value of nearly 1.5 percent, taxes would decrease by $9.09, from $570.45 to $561.36.
On the same home with an increase in assessed value of 10 percent, taxes would increase by $53.37, from $570.45 to $623.82.
Also on Thursday, the school board approved a total budget of nearly $779 million.
No major budget cuts are planned - despite community meetings this spring that included discussions of "worst case" scenarios of cutting elementary art or music.
The budget includes $564 million in its operating budget and $93 million in its capital budget, including money for some building maintenance and up to 10 new school buses.
Brevard employs about 8,700 full-time and part-time positions, including about 4,500 classroom teachers.
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