Miami-Dade School Board commits to lower tax rate

07/16/2014 6:25 PM

07/16/2014 6:26 PM

The Miami-Dade School Board agreed Wednesday to reduce the rate at which homeowners pay taxes into public schools next year.

The board voted to advertise a total tax rate of $7.974 in local newspapers, putting in writing a commitment in recent weeks from Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to reduce the millage. Board members can further reduce that rate when they meet next week for the first of two budget hearings, but can’t raise it.

The proposed rate is just a fraction of a penny cheaper than the previous year’s millage, and will likely still result in marginally higher taxes for homeowners whose properties increase in value. For the owner of a home with a taxable value of $157,000 — the average value of a home taxed by the school board — the bill would equal about $1,250.

But school board members called the proposal significant because the district has been expected to raise its tax rate the last two years due to voters’ approval of a $1.2 billion tax-backed bond initiative. Instead, thanks largely to rebounding property values, the overall rate has gone down even while bond work has begun.

“Less government. Better results. That’s what’s happening here,” said board member Carlos Curbelo.

Much of what taxpayers pay to schools in Florida is actually controlled by the state and based off property values, which are out of the school board’s control. On Monday, Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart set in stone the bulk of Miami-Dade’s funding and taxing based off the property appraiser’s projections of a 9.2 percent county-wide increase in property values.

Board members will consider the proposed tax rate and a $2.9 billion general fund budget on July 24.

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