News Update for 8/22/18

It took them a while, but it appears Highlands County Commissioners yesterday were able to adjust next year’s budget so that the millage rate will remain unchanged.
The commission used $3.6 million dollars from their reserve contingency fund to balance the books.
Although the millage rate will stay at 8.55 – or $8.55 for each $1,000 of property valuation – it still will be an incremental increase, as property values for most taxpayers have gone up.
Some of the property values that have gone down include citrus groves – which have been devastated by the greening disease in recent years.

The Highlands County School Board last night got a report on student statistics from this year and last. The five-day count shows that there are 12,168 students in the schools for this academic year.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jessica Thayer then went through a 60-page powerpoint presentation, showing that Highlands county lags behind state averages in all categories ranging from English, math and science to graduation rates.
She also revealed that better than 3,000 students had disciplinary problems across the district last year and more than 80-percent of the school population is on free or reduced price lunches.

One of the iconic events of Highlands County is getting a new name. The Highlands Art League’s annual “Fine Arts & Crafts Festival” held each fall in downtown Sebring will now be “rebranded” as the “Sebring Art, Wine & Jazz Festival.” Organizers say they hope the new focus will help bring more people in for the 2-day event.
Sebring city council members last night gave their blessing to the event, waiving municipal fees for the Art League.