By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - The Indian River County School Board preliminarily passed the 2012-13 proposed budget with a slightly higher tax rate last week.
After a public hearing on July 24, next year's budget came in at $268 million, which is a decrease of about $40.8 million, according to a presentation by district staff.
Superintendent Fran Adams said several changes have occurred since last year's budget was created, including slight increases in per student funding, a $2 million increase in state and local funding and the elimination of a federal education jobs fund grant, which will increase the districts expenditures by $3 million.
In order to meet the $268 million budget for this coming school year, the school board has given initial approval for a property tax rate of $8.31 per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate is 7 cents higher than last year.
Just because the rate is higher doesn't mean the amount a ratepayer will pay in taxes will increase, Ms. Adams said.
Based on figures from the property appraiser's office, the school district is expecting to see a decrease in property values of about 3.77 percent, said Carter Morrison, assistant superintendent.
In that scenario, a home with a taxable value of $175,000 last year would be worth $167,460 this year. That homeowner could pay $1,392 in taxes for the 2012-13 year, about $50 less than the previous year.
The school board did not make any changes to the superintendent's budget in the meeting, Mr. Morrison said.
The proposed budget did not include any reductions in staffing this year, though there is always the possibility that mid-year reductions could be considered, Ms. Adams said.
"Right now it feels like we have stabilized. It's a relief that we don't have to reduce anybody this year," she said.
That being said, 31 teaching positions are currently being paid for by a critical needs tax voters approved two years ago in a referendum, she said.
The tax will sunset, or expire, after the 2012-13 school year, unless voters choose to reinstitute it and approve another referendum on Aug. 14. If the tax is not approved by voters, positions would likely be in jeopardy, she said.
Two years ago, the critical needs tax was approved by about 60 percent of the voters.
For more information about the proposed budget or other school district news, visit www.indianriverschools.org.