Seminole Co. school board mulling whether to raise taxes and by how much

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - The Seminole County school board is trying to figure out whether to raise taxes and by how much.

In November, voters gave the board the power to raise taxes.

Tuesday's meeting was the first time school leaders have talked about the millage increase since the November election. They're estimating a $4 million deficit next year, but despite that, the superintendent already has a $25 million list of proposed new spending with that tax increase.

"All of these are must-haves. I'll tell you on the capital side in particular, we have some very critical needs there. Roofs and air conditioning systems are very critical," said Bill Kelly of Seminole County Public Schools.

Channel 9 found capital improvements are the highest ticket on the proposed spending list at $15 million for roofing and AC repairs.

But the district needs $2.75 million for technology upgrades and another $1 million to replace basics like tables, chairs and band equipment.

The money has to fit into three main goals of the ballot measure: Improving educational programs, keeping quality teachers and repairing buildings.

The total amount on the wish list is just under the maximum amount of the tax increase.

"It's actually a pared-down list," said Kelly. "Our needs are so much greater than that, but we recognize we have limits even with the 1 mil that was approved."

Even though the list is above and beyond an estimated $4 million expected deficit, board members aren't ready to say if they'll go after the full tax.

"We can certainly use that amount of money. Will we actually impose the millage... will remain to be seen," said school board chair Karen Almond.

The millage increase will cost a homeowner who has a $250,000 house an extra $250 a year.

The maximum millage rate increase will be voted on in July.