The School Board of Manatee County reviewed the tentative 2017-18 school year budget during a Tuesday afternoon work session.
The tentative $781,666,074 budget includes a slight decrease in the property tax rate, but the anticipated tax revenue will increase due to an 8 percent increase in property values.
“The 8 percent property value increase year over year is not sustainable, so that makes the increase in revenue in this budget atypical,” said district chief financial officer Rebecca Roberts. “I believe that Manatee is first or second largest property value increase in the state.”
The millage rate this year will be 6.608, a decrease from last year’s 6.92. A mill equates to $1 per every $1,000 of a home’s value. The first $25,000 of a home value is exempt.
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A homeowner whose property is worth $150,000 would have paid $865 last year. Without any increase in property value, this year that same homeowner would pay $826 with the decreased rate. But with an average increase of 8.18 percent, the homeowner will pay $907 to the school district.
The district’s general fund, which pays teacher salaries and benefits, supplies and utility bills, will increase from last year by 4.69 percent. Capital revenue, which pays for construction and maintenance, will increase from last year by 12.94 percent, due to increased property tax revenue, impact fees and sales tax.
The district’s fund balance, a key metric used by the state and auditors to assess the financial health of the district, rose this year, from 3.4 percent to 4.8 percent.
During this year’s contract impasse between the teacher’s union and the district, district officials said they could not meet union demands because it was vital to stay above a 3 percent fund balance. The 2017-18 budget aims to maintain a 4 percent balance.
New high school in Parrish gets a name
The new high school to open in Parrish in 2019 now has a name: North River High School.
The board decided unanimously on the name during a public hearing at the board’s Tuesday evening meeting. The board solicited names from the public last spring, the board narrowed it down to their favorites in July and ultimately settled on North River on Tuesday.
Board Chairman Charlie Kennedy had advocated for Oak Hill High School because Oak Hill was the original name of Parrish. But board members Scott Hopes and Dave Miner, along with Vice Chairman John Colon all supported the idea of North River because it was more encompassing name of the total area where students will likely come from.
Now that the school has a name, the question of mascot and school colors is next. District spokesman Mike Barber said in the past, new schools have typically first hired a principal and some staff, who then work with the community on selecting a mascot and colors.
Lawsuit against HB 7069
School boards across the state have debated whether to join a lawsuit the Broward County School Board has filed against the state over the sweeping education reform bill House Bill 7069. Kennedy had urged fellow Manatee board members to join the lawsuit last month, but the board tabled the decision until the plaintiffs had selected an attorney.
On Tuesday, board attorney Jim Dye told board members that Broward and a handful of districts who joined the suit were still interviewing potential attorneys.
Hopes said he and Colon would be meeting with several lawmakers on Friday and Saturday. He said past lawsuits against the state over education legislation had been decided in favor of the state and that lawmakers had told him to identify areas where HB 7069 had unintended consequences, and the lawmakers would adjust it.
“They have every intention on working on tweaking that legislation,” Hopes said.
Miner reminded Hopes and Colon to not violate state sunshine laws when they meet with state lawmakers by discussing school board business.
The board ultimately decided to table the discussion until they had more information on what other boards had decided.
Budget by the numbers:
Total budget: $781,666,074
Increase from 2016-17 budget:
Anticipated enrollment: 48,979
Anticipated number of new students: 800