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Palm Coast Friday, Sep. 7, 2018 2 weeks ago

School Board sets millage at 6.410 — slight tax increase, but lowest rate in 25 years

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The largest portion of education taxes are determined by a formula set by the state.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The Flagler County School Board has set the school district's millage rate at a total of 6.410, or $6.410 per $1,000 in taxable value — the lowest rate since the 1994-1995 fiscal year, but still a slight tax increase.

"Our dollars do offset some of those other districts that don't have the property values to generate the income necessary for their schools, and again, that goes back to the equalizing formula that the sate of Florida has."

—COLLEEN CONKLIN, School Board member 

The current rate is 6.639 mills, school district Finance Director Tom Tant said during a presentation before the board at its Sept. 4 final budget hearing. The new rate will be 1.66% higher than the rollback rate — the rate that, accounting for rising property values, would bring in the same amount of money for the school district as the district brought in for the current year — and is therefore considered a tax increase.

The board approved the new rate unanimously.

Of the school district rate, the bulk of it, called the required local effort or RLE rate, is determined through a formula set by the state. That money is collected and then dispersed to various counties based on a formula designed to help less wealthy counties fund their schools.

Flagler's RLE for the coming year is 4.162 mills. The county will have the 10th highest rate out of the state's 67 counties, while its return will be sixth from the bottom, Tant said. 

"This millage rate will provide our k-12 school system a total potential funds per student of $7,181.23," Tant said. "That funding level is ... lower than our surrounding counties of Volusia, St. Johns or Putnam, and is $3,040,596 below the state average funding per student."

School Board member Janet McDonald added that Flagler's RLE money will also have higher unassigned fund balances than Flagler.

"There are some donee counties in there, they get our money, and yet they have very healthy fund balances that are unassigned," she said. She suggested the district point out the disparity to Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Paul Renner.

The RLE rate is the only portion of the overall school district rate that is changing this year: The discretionary rate will remain the same at 0.748 mills, and the capital outlay rate will remain the same at 1.5 mills.

The district’s total budget in the coming year will be $189,672,241. The largest expenditures will be salaries and benefits, school resource deputies and textbooks.

 

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