9 Investigates central Florida school tax rates



ORLANDO, Fla. - Residents in many central Florida counties can expect a tax increase this year as the state requires more money from school districts to pay for education.

In May, Gov. Rick Scott announced $1.08 billion extra for education including $480 million for teacher pay raises. However, due to the state’s requirement for what is known as “required local effort," some counties are now being forced to raise taxes in order to get the extra money for education.

According to the Florida Department of Education, Brevard, Osceola, Polk and Sumter counties will have to raise their tax rates in order to meet minimum state standards.  Conversely, Orange, Seminole, Lake and Volusia will all have the option to lower those same taxes.

“We’re not talking about huge numbers, and it’s important to note that this happens every year” said Rep. Joe Saunders (D-Orange County).

The increases across the state are only a fraction of a percent.  In Brevard County, the increase in tax is expected to be less than $10 per $100,000 in home value per year.

“We need to continually evaluate state and local districts partnerships and school funding” said Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), the chair of the Senate education budget committee.

The state funding system has been in place for more than four decades and requires each district to meet a state mandated minimum tax level to receive state funding.  At its most basic, the system works off a 90/10 split with the state requiring districts to pay 10% in order to receive the 90 percent and as property values fluctuate, some districts are forced to adjust tax rates to maintain the split with the state.

“This is a part of the state budget-making process and it’s not an easy process, it’s all based on predictions and assumptions” said Saunders.

Homeowners who will see their property taxes increase should find out in the next few weeks exactly how much they will have to pay.  As for districts with the option to lower taxes state, leaders say it is unlikely many districts will exercise that option since rates may go back up next year.