The Sarasota County School Board will discuss its annual budget and property tax rate on Tuesday.
While the board’s millage rate is falling due to soaring property values in the area, tax bills could still be higher this year.
Background:Sarasota School Board approves a budget of $ 503 million
Before:Sarasota School Board changes the way reserves are calculated
The school district’s general fund for the daily 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 committee on Thursday.
These include the $ 589 million general fund and $ 227 million equity fund for long-term construction projects and purchases, as well as funds for debt servicing, in-house service, and special revenue.
Most of the money comes from local taxes.
Local sales tax, property tax, and other local sources make up 55% of the funding. The federal government contributes 7.2% ($ 78 million) and the state contributes 7.3% ($ 79 million). The rest are reserves and transfers.
Reserve accounts, often used as an indicator of the district’s financial health, remain strong, CFO Mitsi Corcoran told the board on Thursday.
The district ended the year with $ 64 million in its unallocated fund balance that can be used for emergencies and to offset unfunded mandates.
The board will vote on the provisional budget on Tuesday and the final budget will be submitted to the board for approval in September.
Taxes can rise despite lower rates
This year’s property tax rate continued to decline slightly, from a total million rate of 6.975 for 2020 to a proposed rate of 6.709 for 2021, the lowest tax rate since the Florida Educational Financing Program was launched in 1973 when the million rate was 11.75age.
Every year when real estate values rise, lawmakers adjust the tax rate downwards to prevent skyrocketing tax bills.
“Your taxes can go up even if the rate goes down,” said school committee chair Shirley Brown on Thursday.
A mill is equivalent to $ 1 in annual property tax for every $ 1,000 of the taxable value of a property, so a home with an estimated taxable value of $ 300,000 under the proposed millage rate would cost $ 2,012 in annual property tax .
As the millage rate continues to decline, Sarasota’s property values are up 8% this year. Because of this, the amount of money the school district collects in property taxes is expected to increase to $ 500.4 million from $ 481.7 million last year.
Sarasota voters have approved an additional one million property tax in every vote since 2002. The district expects $ 71 million for the next year. This money helps fund additional art and music teachers, an additional 30 minutes of daily classes, and several other projects.
The additional mill is to be renewed in a referendum in 2022.
Assuming the school board approves the millage rate on Tuesday, the tax bills will be released on August 24th.
Enrollment for the ascent
Florida’s schools are funded per student, so an influx or outflow of students can affect the school district’s bottom line.
Sarasota expects 1,012 new students this year, bringing total enrollment to 44,617 in the coming school year.
This is the largest increase in several years. Last year, enrollments had declined for the first time in at least a decade, with enrollments about 550 students below forecast.
Most of the expected surge this year will be in elementary school, likely in part because parents withheld their kindergarten kids for a year during the pandemic. The district also expects charter enrollments to increase by 474 students, largely due to the opening of Dreamer’s Academy, a new bilingual charter school.
This surge in student numbers could pose a challenge to recruiting enough staff to teach them.
As of Friday, two weeks before school started, the district had advertised 63 teaching positions on its website, more than half of them in primary 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 registering today.