School tax rate could drop
LAND O' LAKES - The Pasco County School Board is expected to give preliminary approval Tuesday to a proposed 2012-13 property tax rate that represents a slight drop from the current rate. The proposed school tax rate is $7.34 per $1,000 of taxable property, down from the current $7.64. The board will discuss the tax rate and the proposed $1 billion budget for 2012-13 fiscal year at a hearing that begins at 6 p.m. in the school board meeting room, 7205 Land O' Lakes Blvd. The board must hold two hearings before the final adoption of the budget and tax rate.Based on the proposed tax rate, the owner of a home with a taxable value of $200,000 would pay $1,468 in school taxes, down from $1,528 under the current rate. The tax is expected to generate about $149.1 million. Although the school board votes on the tax rate, it actually has limited say on the amount. The school tax rate is largely determined in Tallahassee. A few months ago, the school district was anticipating a revenue shortfall of about $25 million for the coming year and began looking for ways to cut spending to address the deficit. That mission is accomplished. Olga Swinson, the district's chief finance officer, said at a budget workshop this week that the proposed budget is a balanced one, but she also had a warning for the school board. Already the district is anticipating a $16 million revenue shortfall for next year because this year's budget depends on some funding that will be eliminated. That had board members discussing ways the district can be run more efficiently, even after about five years of budget cutting. "We obviously still have issues and we obviously still have to find some more cuts to reduce that deficit (for next year)," board member Allen Altman said. Board Chairwoman Joanne Hurley suggested fuel and utilities as areas to explore. "Those are two areas we have still not drilled down enough to find some cost savings," she said. The budget proposal includes one bit of good — or at least slightly better — news for school district employees. District officials had previously proposed that all employees take four unpaid furlough days in 2012-13 as one way to save money. Now the plan calls for two furlough days.
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