At a special budget meeting held on Tuesday, July 29th, the School Board set tentative millage rates for 2014 that will be at the lowest level since 1985.
The reason the rate is so low this year is due to the fact that we have experienced a modest increase in the total tax roll for the county in 2014, up some $600,000.00-meaning our total mills must be reduced by .23 mills in order to not exceed the “rollback” rate. This, combined with the fact that the RLE (Required Local Effort) portion of the millage equation was down significantly compared to last year, leads to a property tax levy for 2014-2015 of just 7.322 mills—the lowest level in 29 years!
In order to not exceed the rollback rate, the capital improvement millage rate absorbed the .23 mills cut-which will cost that fund $2.5 Million in lost revenue.
Discussions at yesterday’s meeting about leaving the capital millage static at 1.5 Mills to capture the $2.5 Million for capital projects went nowhere—unfortunately.
Such a move would have still resulted in an overall lower tax rate than last year for Escambia property
owners, and I would have voted to support this if it was presented by the administration for board approval.
Tax increases or decreases are a function of the RATE at which such taxes are levied, in my opinion.
It is for this reason that I declined to raise the property tax RATE in both 2008 and 2009—when the administration wanted to raise the property tax rate during the heart of the recession and gleefully exclaim that this would not have been a “tax increase.” Yes, that would have been in the world of reality!
On the flipside, leaving the rate static yesterday would not have been a tax increase either, in my opinion; I would have, again, supported keeping the rate static in order not to not gut the capital budget by $2.5 Million.
And I said so at the meeting. Others wanted to keep the proposed rate at a 29 year low-which is understandable-I mean, we all like low tax rates, right?
An opportunity lost……