The Sarasota County School Board will discuss its annual budget and the property tax rate on Tuesday.
Even if the school board’s mileage rate declines, due to the escalating value of homes in the area, tax bills may still be higher this year.
Previously:Sarasota School Board Changes Reserve Calculation
The general school district fund for the day-to-day operations of the district also continues to grow, from $ 535 million in 2018-19 to $ 589 million this year.
The district’s total budget is $ 1.087 billion, according to budget documents posted online and reviewed by the school board on Thursday.
This includes the general fund of $ 589 million, as well as a capital fund of $ 227 million for construction projects and long-term purchases, and funds for debt service, internal service and debt. special income.
Most of the money comes from local taxes.
Local sales tax, property taxes and other local sources account for 55% of the funding. The federal government contributes 7.2% ($ 78 million) and the state contributes 7.3% ($ 79 million). The rest is made up of reserves and transfers.
The reserve accounts, which are often used as an indicator of the district’s fiscal health, remain strong, CFO Mitsi Corcoran told the board on Thursday.
The district closed the year with $ 64 million in its unearmarked fund balance, which is money that can be used for emergencies and to offset unfunded mandates.
Council will vote on the draft budget on Tuesday, and the final budget will be submitted to council for approval in September.
Taxes can rise despite lower rates
This year’s property tax rate has continued to decline slightly, from a total mileage rate of 6.975 for 2020 to a proposed rate of 6.709 for 2021, which is the lowest tax rate since inception. from Florida’s education funding program in 1973, when the mileage rate was 11.75.
Every year, as property values rise, lawmakers adjust the tax rate down to keep tax bills from skyrocketing.
“Their taxes can still go up, even if the rate goes down,” school board president Shirley Brown said Thursday.
A mill equals $ 1 in annual property taxes for every $ 1,000 of assessed value of a property, so a house with an estimated assessed value of $ 300,000 would cost $ 2,012 in annual property taxes at the proposed mileage rate.
As the mileage rate continues to decline, Sarasota property values have increased by 8% this year. Because of this, the amount of money the school district will collect in property taxes is expected to increase from $ 481.7 million last year to $ 500.4 million.
Voters in Sarasota have approved an additional property tax of $ 1 million every time it’s voted on since 2002. Next year, the district expects that mileage to generate $ 71 million. This money is used to fund additional art and music teachers, an additional 30 minutes of daily teaching and several other projects.
The additional mill will have to be renewed in a referendum in 2022.
Assuming the school board approves the mileage rate on Tuesday, tax notices will be posted on August 24.
Registrations on the rise
Schools in Florida are funded on a per student basis, so an influx or exodus of students can impact school district outcomes.
This year, Sarasota expects 1,012 new students, bringing the total enrollment to 44,617 for the next school year.
This is the largest increase in several years. Last year was the first time in at least a decade that enrollment has declined, with enrollment falling by about 550 students below expectations.
Most of the expected increase this year is in elementary school, likely in part because of parents who held back kindergarten students for a year during the pandemic. The district is also forecasting an increase in charter enrollments of 474 students, largely due to the opening of Dreamer’s Academy, a new bilingual charter school.
This increase in the number of students could present a challenge in hiring enough staff to teach them.
On Friday, two weeks before the start of the school year, the district had advertised 63 teaching positions on its website, more than half of which were in elementary schools.
Ryan McKinnon covers schools for the Herald-Tribune. Connect with him at [email protected] or on Twitter: @JRMcKinnon. Support the Sarasota Herald-Tribune by subscribing today.