HomeEducationSchool board reduces property tax rate but still 8% above rolled-back rate
School board reduces property tax rate but still 8% above rolled-back rate
September 12, 2023
BY AMBER THIBODAUX
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Alachua County School Board approved its final millage rate and budget on Monday for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Chief of Finance Keith Birkett gave a brief presentation on the budgetary details, and the board unanimously approved two millage resolutions.
Millage rates are tax rates levied on real estate or other property and make up about 25% of the school district’s annual revenue. About half of the millage rate for the school district is set by the legislature, and the rest is approved locally by the school board. This year’s approved millage rate is 6.432, which is 1.02% lower than last year’s rate of 6.498 but nearly 8% higher than the rolled-back rate.
The “rolled-back rate” is the rate that would raise the same amount of revenue as the prior year if applied to the current year’s tax roll.
The final approved budget for the district is $599,653,242.99, which is $4.5 million less than the approved tentative budget that the board passed on August 1. The millage rate impact to taxpayers amounts to a $27.04 increase in property taxes on a house valued at $206,000 with a homestead exemption.
The chart below gives a breakdown of all components of the budget:
Birkett highlighted the various reasons why the final budget numbers were less than the previous tentative budget: The $9 million adjustment in Capital Projects resulted from unpaid invoices in July that weren’t processed until after August 1; Birkett said that money was encumbered in the budget from last year and did not affect the available balance in the capital outlay.
Birkett said the district is increasing its reserve by $3.6 million to plan for health insurance claims. Chair Tina Certain asked for clarification on whether that increase was due to rising health insurance costs, and Birkett confirmed, saying “hopefully that [number] will be less, but yes, that’s what we are anticipating.”
Birkett said this is the first year the district has included these internal accounts in its budget because of changes in accounting standards.
Before making her final vote, Certain took a moment to express her frustration over the lack of information on federal funds and how they would be spent.
“I think the detail and where we’re headed with our budget needs to be a little clearer, especially around the federal funds, or the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) and the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act). We didn’t get any backup on that in the tentative budget documents.”
Certain said she’s received emails regarding specific services not being available to students when she knows they should be and added, “That is a concern for me – but we have to adopt this because if we don’t, it disrupts a whole lot of things. And so, I kind of begrudgingly, as I have in the past, will vote for this.”
No members of the public spoke on the resolutions. A detailed breakdown of the fiscal year 2023-24 district budget can be found here.
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