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Voters to choose if they want to pay more for schools

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – When voters go to the polls in November, they’ll be doing more than choosing two County Commissioners and three School Board members.

They will be asked if they want to continue a special hike in their property tax bills to support funding the county’s public classrooms.

“Now it is up to the community,” School Board member Carol Johnson, who is running for re-election. The School Board voted unanimously to put the question to the voters in November – asking them if they would support a .25-mill property tax increase for two years, starting in 2011.

According to the Indian River County School District, the increase would result in about $3.5 million of extra funding for the district’s classrooms.

Already, the School Board approved a one-time .25-mill increase to raise the same amount of cash that was used to keep media specialist assistants, reading programs, textbooks and field trips to the Environmental Learning Center in the upcoming budget.

A .25-mill tacked onto property taxes would mean residents would pay an extra 25 cents per $1,000 of the assessed value of their home.

For the owner of a home with an assessed value of $150,000 and a $25,000 homestead exemption, that taxpayer could expect to pay an extra $31.25.

“We need to be prepared,” School Board member Claudia Jimenez said, supporting the referendum.

School Board Chair Karen Disney-Brombach, who is also running for re-election, said she would support the referendum, but only as a way of giving residents a say in the matter.

She voted against the initial .25-mill increase the board approved earlier in the summer.

“It is up to our voters to decide,” Disney-Brombach said.

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