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School Board passes budget, rollback millage rate


BRADENTON - A group of education students from Keiser College saw just how the money comes in and goes out on Thursday night as the Manatee County School Board passed its 2009-10 budget and millage rate in a pair of 5-0 votes.

The final millage rate is the rollback rate of 7.541, 2.29 percent higher than last year. But with declining property values, that rate means that while school taxes on an average home may go up, they won't go up as much as if the board wanted to receive the same revenue as last year. That would have taken a millage rate of over 8, said Jim Drake, assistant superintendent for business services.

"The entire increase is attributable to Required Local Effort, which is mandated by statute," the board's budget book said. "The School Board must levy the RLE to receive state funding."

The total budget is $706,866,028.

Drake's presentation on the budget noted that the state is requiring more but paying for less, which means counties have to pick up the tab. Declining tax revenues and falling enrollment in Manatee County, which is down 288 students according to the latest count, means more budget cutbacks will be needed, and Drake said he plans to start the 2010-11 budget process very soon.

There was no public comment on the budget, save for one man who said he was a new resident and had some questions on his TRIM notice.

Superintendent Tim McGonegal took pains to point out that while the School Board sets the millage rate, it does not set property values, and he advised those with questions about valuation to visit the Property Appraiser's Office for more information.

A big concern for school district officials is the "funding cliff" that they'll experience when federal stimulus money runs out in a couple of years, Drake said. Still, the district is doing OK financially and has built up a fund balance of about $11.7 million, plus a "rainy day" fund of $2.6 million.


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