Property taxes going up to pay for teacher raises

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SARASOTA, FL- Sarasota property owners can get ready to shell out a little more money.  That's because property taxes are going up.  The increase will to pay for raises to teachers and school personnel something many say is over due.

"Teachers and all staff have not had a pay increase in going on 3 years," said Al Weidner, Sarasota School District Chief Financial Officer.

But come August all that will change. State lawmakers approved a measure that mandates all school districts give raises. For Sarasota county, the increases will come at the taxpayer's expense.

"Over 90 percent of the money that's coming in to pay for teacher's salary increase is actually coming from our own local property taxes," added Weidner.  

Currently the millage rate for the county is 4.568 percent. That number could rise to as high as 4.722.

"That means someone who has a $100,000 assessed evaluation, their property taxes could go up $15.40. If they have $200,000 assessment it would go up $30.80," said Weider.

That bill is one many residents say they will gladly pay.

"As long as it is for education Im in full support of it."

Another resident agreed saying. "I know how hard they work and they don't get paid for all those hours they work.  And although I don't like to pay more I think they deserve it and I will certainly support it 100%," Weider.

But not everyone likes the idea some say the district should explore other options before raising the millage rate. But, officials say there are none.

"Our salaries and benefits are about 80% of our budget so when your talking reducing the budget you're talking basically personnel.  And, since 2008 we've cut over 600 positions so we are down to the bear bones, " added Weidner.

In addition to limited staff the district has cut over 123 million dollars from its operating budget since 2007.  The overall proposed budget for the 2013- 2014 school year is 773 million dollars.

"Nobody likes an increase but given how far the property values have fallen in this area.  It's inevitable its got to come from somewhere," said Sarasota resident Lenny Long.

Manatee county will also see a property tax increase.  Their rate will go up .03% making their mileage 5.34 percent.