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School millage rate falls as property values rise

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By Sean Arnold

The rise in total property value in Levy County has led to a drop in the tentative millage rate just passed by the School Board of Levy County.

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The SBLC on Monday voted to adopt the tentative millage at the rollback rate, which is the rate required to collect roughly the same amount of revenue as the previous fiscal year.

That means Levy County will see a slight drop in the school district’s Required Local Effort (RLE) millage rate, while the district will see a small increase in revenue, before calculating for the required funding for McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities.

The new tentative RLE school millage rate is down from 4.4849 mills to 4.3170, a 6.72 percent drop. The total millage rate for the school district is down 1.41 percent, from 6.6592 to 6.565. Most of the remainder of the total millage outside of the RLE represents the 1.5 mills in capital outlay, which is capped at that level by the state. The capital outlay portion was the target of a recent controversial state bill – now a law – that requires districts to share more capital revenue with charter schools.

The state prescribes a minimum target in revenue from the Required Local Effort, and the millage required per district to meet that target is calculated based on the state’s estimated property values. Levy County’s property value is up $78,297,900 from the previous year.

While the SBLC will see an increase in its proposed budget by $150,606 from 2016-17, that surplus doesn’t reflect the adjustment for costs of the McKay Scholarship Program. Its costs have risen six-fold since its inception in 2003, and now costs the district around $600,000, meaning the district won’t see an uptick in discretionary spending despite the additional surplus. The program provides funding for students with disabilities to transfer schools.

The tentative millage and budget were passed unanimously by the School Board. Finance director Kim Lake delivered the budget presentation.