Clay Schools Absorb Costly State Mandate

By Cravey, Beth Reese | The Florida Times Union, July 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Clay Schools Absorb Costly State Mandate


Cravey, Beth Reese, The Florida Times Union


Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

The Clay County school district has proposed a 2008-09 property tax rate slightly higher than the previous because of a state-mandated increase.

The proposed rate is $7.659 for every $1,000 of assessed value, compared to $7.491. Figures from the state Department of Revenue's Required Local Effort - the amount of revenue county taxpayers must contribute to education costs - produced the new rate, said George Copeland, assistant superintendent for business affairs.

Copeland told the School Board on July 17 that the change would increase the school tax bill for the average property owner - with a $125,000 home, after a $25,000 homestead exemption - by $16.80, from $749.10 to $765.90.

District officials took pains to say they had no choice but to implement the mandate.

"We do not have flexibility," said board Chairwoman Carol Studdard.

Copeland agreed.

"They set the levy. We have no control over that," he said.

The property tax rate proposal followed Copeland's July 10 submission of a proposed 2008-09 budget of $258.8 million. The proposed budget was about $200,000 higher than last year and included a $4 million cushion for anticipated state funding reductions. …

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