Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
On July 29, 2013, in a brief meeting, the Nassau County School Board set a tentative millage rate of 7.359 and adopted a tentative budget of $150,513,103.79 for FY2013-14. In attendance were only three members of the public, none of whom raised questions or concerns during the required public hearing.
School Board Chair Donna Martin (District 1) deferred to Susan Farmer, the Nassau County School District (NCSD) Executive Director of Business Services, for an explanation of the rollback rate and the rates being recommended for adoption. Ms. Farmer explained that while the rollback rate, which would allow the NCSD to collect the same amount of revenue as last year is 7.6118 mills, the School District is requesting that the rate be set at 7.359 mills. Ms. Farmer told the Board that while they may decrease the millage rate at their next budget meeting, they may not raise it.
The total millage rate proposed is 3.51% lower than the rate for the current fiscal year and continues the downward trend that the NCSD has experienced since FY1996-97, when it was set at 9.408 mills. Because the millage rate is composed of three components—Required Local Effort, Basic Discretionary and Capital Outlay—some confusion arose when another news source reported that the millage rate would increase 1.400 mills. That figure represents the Capital Outlay component of the millage rate. Before the meeting, Chair Martin explained, “ In order to increase the Capital Outlay to 1.400 from its current 1.323 mills, the Required Local Effort millage is being reduced to 5.211 from its current 5.472 mills. For the taxpayer, the net result is a decrease in millage.”
The Capital Outlay millage will generate approximately $9M to be used for maintenance, renovation and repair of school district buildings, purchase of 7 school buses and 4 service vehicles, technology and furniture replacements and upgrades, among other items. Construction and remodeling efforts are also planned for Emma Love Hardee School, Southside Elementary School and Callahan Middle School, in addition to a new elementary school for the Yulee Community.
Superintendent John Ruis, at the direction of Chair Martin, presented seven separate items that formalized the actions required to set the tentative millage rates, the budget and the final public budget hearing for FY 2013-14. All items were approved by unanimous vote. The School Board had reviewed and discussed the tentative budget with Dr. John, Ruis, NCSD Superintendent, at two public workshops this month.
During discussion of the motions, School Board Member Amanda Young (District 3) emphasized that the proposed millage rate is a 3.32% decrease from the rollback rate and a 3.51% decrease from that of the current year, resulting in a $1.6M decrease in the proposed budget.
Chair Martin and School Board Members thanked Ms. Farmer for her work on the budget and encouraged members of the public to contact them or District staff with any questions on the budget, details of which may be found on the School District’s website: http://www.edline.net/pages/Nassau_County_School_District. Contact information for Dr. Ruis and School Board Members may also be found at: http://www.edline.net/pages/Nassau_County_School_District/School_Board/Board_Members.
The final public hearing and vote to adopt the tentative millage and the budget will be held on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. in the Boardroom of the School Board Offices, 1201 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.
July 30, 2013 10:50 a.m.