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Inflation and Teacher pay increases.

Updated: Feb 14

To compare and contrast the loss of buying power for a teacher in Broward County receiving a 3.65% pay increase against the inflation rates:

1. Overall CPI Increase vs. Salary Increase: The overall CPI increased by 3.4%. A teacher’s pay increase of 3.65% is slightly above this overall inflation rate, which suggests that, in general, the pay raise would just cover the inflation costs with a very marginal increase in real buying power.

2. Food Inflation vs. Salary Increase: Food at home increased by 1.3%, which is below the salary increase. This means that the pay raise is sufficient to cover the increased cost of food consumed at home. However, food away from home increased by 5.2%, which is higher than the salary increase. This indicates that the raise would not be enough to cover the increased costs of eating out, leading to a loss of buying power in this category.

3. Energy Inflation vs. Salary Increase: The energy index fell overall by 2.0%. With gasoline and fuel oil prices dropping significantly, a teacher would find increased buying power in this category due to the salary increase, since less of their income would be needed to cover these costs compared to the previous year.

4. Electricity Inflation vs. Salary Increase: Electricity costs increased by 3.3%, which is slightly below the salary increase rate. Therefore, the salary increase should be able to compensate for the higher electricity costs without significant loss of buying power.

5. Shelter Inflation vs. Salary Increase: The shelter index saw a rise of 6.2%, which is substantially higher than the pay increase. Housing costs represent a significant portion of monthly expenses for most individuals, so this discrepancy would likely lead to a noticeable loss of buying power in terms of housing affordability for teachers.

In conclusion, the 3.65% pay raise for teachers in Broward County may cover the overall inflation, but when breaking it down by category, it falls short in areas such as food away from home and significantly so in housing. The raise would provide some buffer against inflation in food at home and energy costs, but the increased costs in housing would likely lead to a net loss of buying power in that essential area, which could be the most impactful on the standard of living.

Broward County homeowners, including teachers, are facing significant increases in insurance rates. In March 2023, the board of governors of Citizens Property Insurance, which is Florida's property insurer of last resort, approved a statewide rate increase of 14.2% for policyholders. This increase affects all personal lines policies including homeowners, condominium unit owners, dwellings, renters, and mobile homes, and individual premiums may rise even more due to higher replacement costs from inflation in the construction market.

In Broward County, while the property tax rate has not increased and remains at 5.6690 mills for the Fiscal Year 2023, the overall taxable value of properties has risen by 8.8% on average. This means that homeowners, including teachers, may see an increase in their property tax bills despite the millage rate remaining unchanged, due to the increased valuation of properties​​​​.

In addition to property taxes, the county's budget includes increases in reserves for various services, such as future debt service for county facilities and a reserve for ad valorem tax revenues to safeguard against economic trends. While these budgetary measures are intended to prepare for future economic changes and support public services, they do not directly alleviate the current tax burden on homeowners​​.

Furthermore, Broward County commissioners rejected a proposal to decrease the property tax rate, indicating a decision to maintain the current rate amid budget considerations​​.

Taking into account the increased cost property valuations, which could lead to higher property taxes, and considering additional tax hikes for schools approved by Broward voters, a teacher's net buying power may be further constrained even with the 3.65% salary increase. The increase in property tax due to higher valuations, coupled with the mentioned tax hikes, could potentially outweigh the salary adjustments when considering the overall cost of living, leading to a reduction in real terms of the purchasing power for teachers in Broward County.

Moreover, property insurance rates in Florida are expected to jump considerably, with projections indicating an increase of at least 40% in 2023. This surge in rates is partially due to the high costs of catastrophes, particularly the insured losses from Hurricane Ian, and the exit of many insurers from the state, which has left the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to absorb many of the policies dropped by private insurers. The company is predicted to hit a record of 2 million policies in 2023. This situation is exacerbated in Florida as homeowners are already paying premiums that are significantly higher than the national average.

With such substantial increases in insurance premiums, even a teacher's salary increase of 3.65% in Broward County would be significantly outpaced by the climbing costs of insuring their homes. This situation, combined with the property tax considerations previously discussed, could lead to a notable decrease in the real buying power and financial stability of homeowners in the region, including educators and other public service professionals.

These rising costs present a challenge for many, and homeowners may need to budget for these increased expenses or explore alternative options to mitigate the financial impact.

For detailed information on these rate increases and the factors contributing to them, sources such as the Insurance Journal, Opportunity For All Floridians, and WUSF provide further insights.

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