Escambia School Board Divided Over Potential Property Tax Increase : NorthEscambia.com
The Escambia County School Board is currently split over a possible property tax increase.
The taxable property value in Escambia County is $27.5 billion, according to the district, up $4.3 billion from the current tax year due to higher taxes. real estate values and new constructions.
Maintaining the 2023 mileage rate at 1.214 mils in 2022 would generate $32 million and put more than $2 million in reserves. The district has the option to increase the mileage rate to 1.5, which would mean $39.6 million in funding.
It is estimated that projects that can be funded by property tax revenues will cost $29.6 million.
But keeping the mileage rate the same for the coming year would technically be a tax increase. A lower reduction rate is the tax rate that would generate the same amount of property tax revenue as was approved for the previous year. A mileage rate above the reduction rate is defined by the State of Florida as a tax increase. The district will not know the rate of decline until later this week.
“You know me. I would go with 1.5 mils if I could, but I know I have no support there,” board member Patty Hightower said. The rate of 1, 5 mils would be the highest tax increase allowed by law.She said the district needed revenue after spending $3 million last year.
“We need to make sure we have the funds to cover those inflation costs,” Hightower said, citing a 9.1% inflation rate the district is facing on purchases.
“People there are suffering from the same inflation that we are,” Board Chairman Kevin Adams responded. “There’s no way I’m going to support a tax increase for the citizens of Escambia County. It’s not happening with me. Now the other members of my board, if they want to join this party , it’s up to you to decide.
Adams said he would support the rollback rate and adjust the budget accordingly. He said the citizens of Escambia County would not support a property tax increase, especially after the school district saw an increase in sales tax revenue and federal dollars.
“I will support 1.214,” District 5 board member Bill Slayton said, adding later that he would vote for the rate needed to maintain the same level of funding.
“I also will not support a tax increase,” said Paul Fetsko. I agree that we have the revenue from the sales tax of half a penny.
Adams, as chair leading a recent board workshop meeting, turned to member Dr. Laura Edler and asked for her opinion as the deciding vote.
“I could get sick that day,” Edler joked.
Top in the photo: Escambia County School Board President Kevin Adams explains that he will not support a tax increase. Inset photo: Patty Hightower, Board Member. Images for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.