School Board Chairman Trevor Tucker (Photo by Jonathan Simmons)

School Board sets tentative millage rate: Lowest in 25 years, but still a tax increase

The tentative 2018-2019 rate is 6.410 mills, down from the current 6.639.
By: 
Jul. 24, 2018

Flagler Schools has set its tentative millage rate for the coming year at 6.410. The district’s total budget in the coming year will be $189,672,241, of which $104,758,000 will go the district’s general fund. More than 80% of the general fund budget will go into salaries and benefits. The other largest expenditures will be textbooks and school resource deputies.

"The tentative millage rate ... is the lowest millage rate since before 1994-1995." — Tom Tant, Flagler Schools finance director

The 6.410 proposed millage for the coming year is lower than the current year’s millage rate of 6.639 — and lower than the millage rate has been in 25 years, Flagler Schools Finance Director Tom Tant said in a presentation before the School Board July 24. But because property values are rising and the new rate will bring in more money than the district brought in last year, the new rate is still considered a tax increase.

"The (state-set Required Local Effort) property taxes that are paid by every one of our property owners in Flagler County — we're tenth highest in the state. We're higher than St. Johns, our neighbor; they're 43rd. Volusia, 46th. Putnam, 61. Their millage rates are way lower than ours. We are higher — Palm Beach is at 4.062. We're at 4.160. We're higher than Palm Beach. ... Our property owners are paying the highest millage rate and we're getting almost the least back per student. No other district is in this situation. So that's the environment we're dealing with."

— Tom Tant, Flagler Schools finance director

The largest portion of that rate, the school district Required Local Effort (or RLE) millage, is set by the Florida Legislature for each county.

The RLE property tax rate required of Flagler County by the state is the tenth highest out of Florida’s 67 counties, while the amount the district will get back per student is the sixth lowest. Last year it was third lowest.

“At least it’s in the right direction,” School Board member Colleen Conklin said.

Currently, Flagler’s RLE millage rate is 4.3910. mills, or $4.391 per $1,000 in taxable value. The coming year’s will be 4.1620 mills, which will be 1.66% over the rollback rate — the rate that would bring in the same amount of revenue as was brought in 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 revenue expected from the coming year’s 4.162 RLE millage is $39,886,827. Last year’s RLE revenue was $39,108,012.

Capital outlay millage is expected to generate $14,375,358 in the coming year, compared to $13,359,603 this year.

The discretionary millage of 0.748 mills is expected to generate $7,168,512 this year. It generated $6,661,989 last year.

The district has slightly over $6 million in its fund balance, of which $5.6 million is unassigned. The district is 34th out of the 67 districts in terms of fund balance, Tant said.

The School Board approved the tentative budget and tentative millage rate unanimously.