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Broward’s $3.1 billion budget: Higher salaries for teachers, increased taxes for homeowners

Broward County, Florida – Under a provisional budget approved on Tuesday evening, educators in Broward are set to receive higher earnings, which will result in an increased financial burden for homeowners.

Typically, the annual public budget hearing is concluded swiftly and without incident. However, the session to approve the $3.1 billion budget this Tuesday was prolonged, lasting almost four hours. Board members deliberated on potential cutbacks, a multitude of teachers advocated for increased funding, and the board’s three conservative members unsuccessfully attempted to reduce the suggested tax rate.

This marks the first occasion in four years where property owners will experience a tax hike intended for the augmentation of teacher and employee salaries, security, and mental health provisions. The tax rise is largely attributable to voters consenting last year to increase a tax initially approved in 2018, escalating it from $50 to $100 per $100,000 in assessed property. This year will be the first that the increased rate will come into effect.

A 3% appreciation in assessed property values will equate to a $232 augmentation for a homeowner with a property evaluated this year at $345,000. The tax would rise from $1,905 to $2,136. Homeowners without a homestead exemption would face a markedly higher payment. According to the district’s budget documentation, taxable property values in Broward County increased by 13% overall.

Consequently, Board member Torey Alston proposed a reduction in the property tax by $5 per $100,000 in assessed property, a suggestion which did not pass. Alston also championed for cutbacks to the budget, including the removal of 48 proposed district-level positions, in spite of declining enrolment numbers.

Other board members expressed a desire to see further position reductions, asking the newly-appointed Superintendent Peter Licata to identify a minimum of 27 roles to be removed. None of these roles are currently occupied. The final budget is set to be ratified in September.

This budget hearing took place a week after the School Board postponed a proposal by board member Allen Zeman to increase the average teacher’s compensation, inclusive of benefits, to $100,000 by 2025. The board members agreed to revisit this proposal in January.

Teachers present at the hearing voiced their desire to see an immediate increase in pay.

Furthermore, Board member Debbi Hixon sought to clarify misunderstandings about teacher pay. She indicated that teachers will receive a significant raise due to the tax increase approved by voters, and it’s only the $100,000 proposal that has been delayed. The district is currently in negotiations with the union.

Jordan Collins

Jordan is an experienced editor with years in the journalism and reporting industry. He loves talking with the community about the problems local residents face and state politics. You can find him in the gym almost every day or see him jogging.

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