South Florida School Districts have more money than they’ve ever had

South Florida School Districts have more money than they’ve ever had but don’t expect to see that in the news 

  • Why Palm Beach County public schools’ tax rate keeps falling – Palm Beach Post 

Excerpt: Most of Palm Beach County’s local governments have had the good fortune to keep their property tax rates steady in recent years, allowing them to bring in more money through rising home values without a formal vote to hike taxes. 

But there’s a striking exception: the county’s public schools, whose tax rate has dropped 20 percent since 2011. 

The school district is alone among the county’s large local governments in seeing such drastic cuts to its tax rate. The reductions have been great news for the county’s property owners, but they have made life far more difficult for the public schools. 

In just the past three years, the school board’s total property tax rate has fallen from $7.51 per $1,000 of taxable value to $6.57 per $1,000 of taxable value. That three-year drop means an estimated $181 million less in taxes that will be collected this year for the county’s public schools. 

Reducing the district’s tax rate is a project of the Florida Legislature’s Republican leadership, notably House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who this year vowed not to raise school taxes at all, even “indirectly.” 

The perennially falling tax rate is the driving force behind the school board’s decision to ask voters in November to approve a hike to a special portion of the district’s tax rate — the only portion of it that can be raised without state lawmakers’ approval.

Bottom Line: Ah yes, the obligatory, the state made us do it and woe is us story to attempt to provide credibility to the argument for you voting yourself a tax increase in one of the most over-taxed districts in Florida. I’ll cut to the chase. The premise of this story is missing one critical detail. How much more total revenue is being received by the school district being paid for by us. Yes, the state is exercising fiscal responsibility but in South Florida it’s been anything but. Total revenue isn’t down anywhere near 20% since 2011. Quite the opposite. It’s up 28% over that period of time. According to budget records filed with the State of Florida total revenue in Palm Beach County in the year ended in 2011 was $1.45 billion. This year it’s $1.86 billion. That’s $410 million additional dollars, or 28% more revenue. At the same time the student population grew from 175,000 to 193,000 – an increase of 10% 

So, revenues have grown 18% faster than student population count and still it’s not enough and we’re supposed to approve more tax increases? Things that make you go hmm. Btw, here’s the comparison with Broward and Dade... 

  • Broward: 22% increase (2011 – 2018) 
  • Dade: 17% increase (2011-2018)

So once again we see that the two larger school districts have managed with lower revenue growth and asked for smaller tax increases than Palm Beach County’s as well. Two sides to stories... One side to facts.

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