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Manatee schools budget could mean higher taxes for property owners

BRADENTON — The Manatee County School Board Wednesday will consider a tentative $697 million budget for the 2009-10 school year that could mean higher taxes for Manatee property owners.

The tentative budget calls for a maximum millage rate of 7.541 — up 2.29 percent from last years 7.372 mills.

That means a taxpayer with a home valued at $250,000 with a homestead exemption of $25,000 and no change in assessment will pay $1,696 in school property taxes, an increase of about $38.03, said Jim Drake, the district’s assistant superintendent of business service.

Board members will vote on the millage rate first, then vote on the tentative budget.

If adopted, more than $13.6 million would be slashed from the district’s 2009-2010 operating budget.

The reduction would include eliminating 48 district office positions, axing assistant principals in nine district schools with less than 575 students and turning Duette Elementary into a “contract site,” where services would be contracted out.

Not on the list of cuts: slashing school resources officers, employee pay reductions or closing schools.

The cuts came from a 30-item plan proposed by Superintendent Tim McGonegal.

The district, McGonegal said, needs to slash about $25 million during the next three years.

Last week, lawmakers gave school districts the opportunity to implement an optional critical needs millage — an additional property tax of 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable value.

“We are not recommending it nor is the board going to consider it,” Drake said today.

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