Miami-Dade Schools

Carvalho: Miami-Dade Schools tax collections could fall $60 million short — again

Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Tax collections for Miami-Dade County Public Schools could fall $60 million short for the second consecutive year, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Wednesday.

To brace for the shortfall, the $4 billion school district is putting aside spare dollars and closely watching monthly collections. For instance, an item that saves $18 million by reducing spending and transferring costs is included on next week’s School Board agenda.

The district is also lobbying the Florida Legislature, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (Miami-Dade’s former property appraiser), and the county’s Value Adjustment Board to try to fix the problem, which is mostly unique to South Florida.

In the meantime, Carvalho said the district is being short-changed.

“It could easily be said that dollars that belong to education in Miami-Dade are being taken from the pockets of our teachers and the desks of our kids,” he told School Board members during a committee meeting.

Miami-Dade’s problem with collections is due to a confluence of factors.

State law requires municipalities, which are heavily funded by property taxes, to budget projected tax collections at 95 percent of what the property appraiser says they’re owed. For school districts, the baseline is a little higher at 96 percent.

But tax rolls have been volatile since the real estate bubble popped. In Miami-Dade, collections fell to around 92 percent last year according to district officials. The problem has been exacerbated by a backlog of property-tax appeals and a recent switch by the Miami-Dade Tax Collector’s office to an electronic system that is now pushing through a bottleneck of tax refunds at a rapid pace.

Other Miami-Dade government agencies are dealing with the issue. The county recently estimated shortfalls around $24 million. Going into this fiscal year, Hialeah’s budget guru said the city was expecting collections at 90 percent of what was projected.

Still, for the school district, which unlike municipalities runs on a fiscal year from July to June, an extra problem exists in that tax collections aren’t completed until after the year’s books are closed. That can leave the district scrambling. This year, Carvalho said he has heard the collections shortfall could be between $40 million and $60 million.

Carvalho said the district will continue to push state lawmakers to allow school districts more budget leeway. School-district officials are also looking to address problems they say can be solved through the county’s Value Adjustment Board.

The board hears appeals cases, which Carvalho said fostered a cottage industry for abusive property-appeals agencies.

“The appeals process should be a process whereby residents voluntarily try to find out whether they’re being treated fairly or not,” said Board Member Carlos Curbelo, who sits on the Value Adjustment Board. “It should not be an industry.”

Read more Schools stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category