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Education

Duval School Board Approves $1.7 Billion Budget

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Duval County Public Schools
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The millage rates are heading down next fiscal year, but Duval County property owners can still expect to pay more in school taxes.The Duval County School Board approved its $1.7 billion preliminary budget for 2014-15 along with a new lower millage rate for property owners.

The millage rate refers to one tenth of a cent, or the $1 tax for every $1,000 of property value.

Board members voted on both proposals during a special meeting Tuesday night.

While millage rates for the upcoming year will fall from about 7.38 mills this year to 7.30 next year, the average taxpayer will pay actually pay about 2.4 percent more.

The increase in taxes is a consequence of a rebounding economy, school officials said. As the local economy improves, property value goes up which in turn leads to higher taxes.

That value is set by the Duval County Property Appraiser.

"The example I give is if I had a property value of $100,000 and I was assessed 7.5 percent, and then this year (my property) is $115,000 and I’m still assessed 7.5 percent, I’m going to pay more because my property value went up,”  School Board Chairwoman Becki Couch who spoke to WJCT over the phone about the increase.

Couch was out of town and not present for the board's vote Tuesday night.

The district is required by state law to raise a certain amount in order to receive about $587.4 million in school funding from the state. That amount, referred to as the "required local effort," accounts for about $264 million of the local tax dollars for the 2014-15 year.

"Our levy on millage is at its lowest level required in order to receive state funding," Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said.

The rest of the revenue generated from local school tax will go toward the district's capital and discretionary spending which amounts to about $117 million.

The school board will hold a public hearing and vote on the final 2014-15 budget on Sept. 16

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.