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Answers from School Board on Tax Questions

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By Deb Boelkes, We The People

Fri, Sep 8 at 3:18 PM

To We the People – Today we have some replies from the school board, and other updates on how your tax dollars are being spent elsewhere.

Editor’s note: Curtis Gaus’ reply was added 9-9-23

-First, in follow-up to the email I sent to all the Nassau County School Board members on Wednesday, I so far have received responses from Shannon Hogue and Cynthia Grooms. Since I received Cynthia’s first, and since their two replies are somewhat similar,

I will share Cynthia Groom’s first:

Good evening,

Thank you for reaching out to me regarding the 1 mill tax increase.  I have tried to give you all the background information and answer questions regarding your concerns.  I have put together a few charts and previous shared information that went out to the public prior to the vote.  

Nassau County School District is currently ranked #2 in the State out of 67 districts.

Our graduation rate is 93.3%

We have about 2100 employees (including teachers, support personnel, substitutes, and part-time)

Background Information:

Since 2012, in order to keep property taxes in the County down, the property value millage rate had been reduced from 5.211 to 3.255.  In fact, the predicted total millage rate in 2024, even with the 1 point increase, will still be below the 2012 rate, for real estate values (4.960 to 5.211) and the total mill rate was now 6.450 vs 7.39 in 2012. While the reductions over the 11 year period offset the increase in real property values, it also reduced the School district’s ability to keep up with growth and inflation especially after Covid. The solution that was developed and put to a vote was to increase property taxes 1 mill which is equal to $1 for every $1000 of assessed property value minus the homestead exemption. The plan was to deliver 70 percent of the revenues generated by the 1 mill increase for the teachers and staff and the other 30% would be used to support safety/security, the arts and athletics.

On November 8, 2-22 the Nassau County voters voted to approve the additional 1 mill. See the official ballot language below:

Shall the Nassau County School District levy an ad valorem operating millage of 1 mill annually to attract and retain high quality teachers and staff through additional compensation, enhance fine arts and athletic programs, and provide enhanced safety and security for students and staff, in order to continue and sustain improvements in the quality of Nassau County’s School System.

The anticipated amount to be collected through the additional 1 mill was provided by the Property Appraiser’s Office ($13.7M).

See the exact wording from our Q & A document shared during the millage campaign:

How much money will the 1 mill bring into the district and for how long?

It is estimated to bring in about $13.7 million a year. The increase will go away in four years unless renewed by voters.

However, you will see from the following slide, the assessed values increased by: 17.23%

The surge in property values established by the January 2023 valuation increase in assessed property values was about 19.8%.  Therefore the 1 mill property tax increase projected to yield a $13.7 million brought in about $16.2 million.  Safety/Security to receive $1.95 million, Athletics $1.46 million, Arts $1.46 million and Teachers $11.358 million (1 mill did not generate $29 million….see below).

At the first budget workshop, the board was presented with a list of “big-ticket items” that would have a major impact on the budget:  These items included:

·       Increase in Family Empowerment Scholarships                                    $3M

·       Technology Support                                                                                    $180K

·       Property Insurance Increase                                                                     $175K

·       Florida Retirement rate increase                                                             $1.4M

·       Energy rate increases                                                                                 $300K

·       Salary increases (previous raises/reoccurring costs)                            $2.5M

·       2 additional officers for schools                                                               $160K

·       Mental Health Support                                                                               $300K

·       Maintenance/Operation costs/adding buildings                                   $384K

·       Additional support to address new legislation re: media$120K

·       Additional personnel costs                                                                        $1.5M


                                                                                                                                                                Total = $10.1M

$10.1M Big Ticket Items needed for the District

$3M       Increase in Capital

$16M (from added 1 mill)

This is where the $29.1 M comes from. 

It is also important to note that the funds generated by the 1 mill are for four (4) years and could go down in the years to come.  It is all determined by assessed values.

 In Summary:

Answers to Questions:

1)    We all recall that last fall the Nassau County School Board proposed, and the voters Based on two years of what may have been a totally unexpected increase in our property values, the School District millage increase now will generate a $29.8 MILLION year-over-year increase for the school district. The 1 millage referendum voted on last year, generating $13.7 million dollars for the school system did not generate $29.9 million.  The 1 mill generated $16 million this year but could change annually.

2)    As you’ve likely heard (or are about to hear) from many other irate taxpayers, even with a .4 millage rate reduction, this will STILL provide a huge tax increase and will generate far MORE than the $13.7 million originally proposed by the School Board. These are two totally separate funding sources.  By law, we cannot intermingle the 1 mill that was voted on with our operating discretionary funding.  The 1 mill can only be used for what it was voted on.  The discretionary fund is the district’s operating money, if we reduce this, it will cut the district’s operating money. Asking for a .4 millage rate reduction could be as much as 8 million dollars taken from the money it takes to operate the district.

 I hope this helps answer the questions you have.  My goal is always to be transparent.

Thank you for your time in this matter.

Cynthia Grooms, Ed.D.

School Board Member District 4

School Board Chair


Now, I’ll share what was unique to Shannon Hogue’s response. 1) Shannon provided the attached informative PowerPoint presentation about the 2023 – 2024 Budget (Millage Rates) from the August 24, 2023 School Board meeting (see attached). 2) Shannon also provided these additional insights and intentions:

Another important point to note is that as our locally funded tax revenues increase, the state’s funding for our school district is reduced.  In reality, the state funding provides approximately 35% of the revenue needed to run local schools.  In like manner, 65% of school funding comes from local property taxes and other sources.   

The RLE (Required Local Effort) is set by the state, which we have no control.  The state has mandated a steady decline in the Require Local Millage rate each year from 5.8 in 2012 to 3.3 mills today.  This was done to offset increases in local property taxes, but it also reduced the district’s ability to keep up with growth and inflation.  Even with the 1 mill, it’s still well below the 2012 rate.  This is the primary source of funding for school operations, including salaries. 

The Board has completed multiple workshops on the budget where we have spent countless hours reviewing the budget-line by line.   

I will follow up after I have consulted with the attorney to see if there is a legal way to make any changes. 

Thank you for reaching out and being an advocate for the people! 

Shannon Hogue

NCSB District 1


Curtis Gaus’ response

From: Curtis Gaus <[email protected]>
Sent: Friday, September 8, 2023 9:50 PM
To: Deb Boelkes <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: School Board: PLEASE VOTE to LOWER the discretionary millage by .4 mils

Thank you for your email and I want to apologize for not responding sooner, but I wanted to make sure I had time to provide you with an accurate and thoughtful response. 

I appreciate your involvement in local issues and bringing your concerns to the school board members.  As a fellow taxpayer, I understand your concerns about the increases in property tax millage.   As a recently elected school board member, I am still working through the financial issues facing the district.  I am committed to working with my colleagues and the community to find a solution to many of the problems the district is currently facing.  Without trying to sound like an excuse on answering tough questions, I was not a member of the board when the millage increase was proposed.  In addition, I was on the fence about the millage referendum.  Now that I am on the board and have more information about the direction of the district and the financial situation moving forward, I feel more prepared to provide both quality and informed answers to all questions and concerns. 

I would like to start by clearing up some misinformation that has been publicized through social media outlets and email blasts. Information has been sent out that the district advertised 13.7 million in additional revenue from the millage referendum, and now the district will be earning over 29 million new revenue this year. While that is partly true, the misinformation is how the 29 million is generated. Let me address the advertising of the 13.7 million. From my understanding, the district used information provided by the property appraiser to create their campaign materials, and the property appraiser’s office provided financial information based on the taxes collected from the 21-22 tax year.  

The district began their campaign in August, so why was the information based on 21-22 when the property appraiser should have had an idea the property values were going to take a sharp increase in 22-23, I cannot answer that question. Assessed values increased on average 19.78% from 21-22 and 22-23. Values increased again from 22-23 to 23-24 another 17.23%. These two significant increases have compounded the issue of increasing property taxes. In all honesty, I do not believe the previous board acted in bad faith. They could only use the information they were provided. Keep in mind, I was not on the school board at the time, and I can only provide info that I have been told about the timeline. That said, the millage increase is expected to yield 16.9 million based on 23-24 property values. The voter approved millage referendum was for a 1 mill increase. Tax millages are based on current property values not a specific dollar amount needed. The remaining increases are strictly a result of increasing property values over the last two years.  

The information that has been publicized is that all the revenue is one big pot of money that can be used at the discretion of the school board. The voter approved millage is legally required to be used for the initiatives the board listed on the ballot. The language on the ballot was: “Shall the Nassau County School District levy an additional ad valorem operating millage of 1 mill annually to attract and retain high quality teachers and staff through additional compensation, enhance fine arts and athletic programs, and provide enhanced safety and security for students and staff, in order to continue and sustain improvements in the quality of Nassau County’s School System.” We cannot use the voted-on millage for regular operating expenses as the public has been led to believe in recent weeks. 

Many concerned citizens have asked us to reduce the discretionary 0.7480 millage to offset the unexpected increase from the 1 mill. If we do that, it creates a significant shortfall in the funds we use to operate the district, such as, busing, books, technology, utility bills, etc. The discretionary millage fills that gap from funding the state provides, and our state mandated required local effort. Last year, the 0.7480 yielded 10.7 million. With the increase of property values, the 0.7480 will yield 12.1 million. The 16.9 and the 12.1 is where the 29 million publicized on social media and email blasts come from. As I stated earlier, those two pots of money cannot be intermingled.  

Next, I would like to address the additional expenses the district has incurred over the past year.  At the beginning of the budget process, Dr. Burns shared a list of big-ticket budget items that were coming this year that needed to be addressed in this budget cycle.  The list is as follows:  

  • 3 m to increase funding for the “Family Empowerment Scholarship” passed by the legislature last session 
  • 2 m for additional staff hired due to increased enrollment. 
  • 1.4 m additional to fund increases in Florida Retirement System for our employees. 
  • 2.5 m to fund the salary increases that were negotiated last year. 
  • 300,000 for increases in energy costs 
  • 384,000 for increased maintenance/operation costs for additional buildings built in the Yulee Area. 
  • 300,000 for additional student mental health services 
  • 160,000 for two additional school resource officers at YHS and YMS (not covered by the Sheriff’s Office) 
  • 175,000 to cover increased property insurance 
  • 120,000 to support new legislation passed during the last legislative session. 

Inflation of daily goods and services does not just affect families, it affects public entities as well. While the school district is seeing a substantial increase in discretionary revenue, our costs of doing business and providing quality educational programs are skyrocketing each year. 

I know this has been a long response, but I wanted to make sure you had the full story.  None of us like tax increases, but schools are primarily funded at the local level, and we want to continue to provide the best education we can for our students. 


Curtis Gaus, NCSB District 3

I’ve head from some of you that you intend to attend the meeting on Monday evening, Sept. 11….that’s terrific. I would be there if I was not going to be out of town….so thanks to all of you who will attend and especially to those of you who intend to speak at the meeting.


Next, In addition to all the Billions of your tax $$ the Biden regime is theoretically sending to “Ukraine” day after day, did you know the Biden Regime is also giving $2,200 per month to illegal Immigrant families, plus a plane ticket, housing, food, and free medical serviceshttps://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2023/09/outrageous-border-patrol-agent-reveals-biden-regime-gives/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=outrageous-border-patrol-agent-reveals-biden-regime-gives

At least Russia is trying to get the word out—via the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in Geneva Switzerland held August 8-17—about all the US biological activity. In this damning report, they even address RFK Jr. on Tucker and the clandestine Chinese biolab in Ridley, CA. https://telegra.ph/Briefing-by-Chief-of-Nuclear-Chemical-and-Biological-Protection-Troops-of-the-Armed-Forces-of-the-Russian-Federation-Lieutenant–09-06  You certainly don’t hear much, if any of this from the MSM.

Loved the part that said,

The documents demonstrate the active participation of the U.S. State Department in bioprogrammes on the territory of foreign countries, as well as Washington’s desire to use third-party performers to conceal the customers and purposes of the research being conducted.

Special attention is given to countries in the Middle East (Iraq, Yemen, Jordan), South-East Asia (Indonesia, Philippines) and Africa (Kenya, Morocco, Uganda). Mention is made of President Obama’s role in promoting the State Department’s proposed biological programmes.

It should also be noted that Ukraine occupies a special place in the planning documents and is singled out as a separate region.

Thus, Washington is making administrative, financial, and diplomatic efforts to establish U.S. global biological control.

And finally, more election anomalies found in Wisconsin: the use of improperly (non)authorized National Mail Voter Registration forms to register new voters by mail.   https://thefederalist.com/2023/09/07/court-wisconsins-unauthorized-use-of-federal-voter-registration-form-violates-state-law/

Getting tired of playing whack-a-mole yet?

Enjoy your weekend,

Deb Boelkes

Founder, Business World Rising, LLC 

Keynote Speaker and award-winning Author of: 

Strong Suit: Leadership Success Secrets from Women on Top

Women on Top: What’s Keeping You From Executive Leadership?

The WOW Factor Workplace: How to Create a Best Place to Work Culture

Heartfelt Leadership: How to Capture the Top Spot and Keep on Soaring

Office: 904-310-9602

Mobile: 949-394-3590
Email: [email protected]

DebBoelkes.com || BusinessWorldRising.com || HeartfeltLeadership.com

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