San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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August 12th, 2008
Hays CISD to hold tax rate steady

STAFF REPORT

The Hays CISD is one local entity that does not plan to raise property taxes for the coming year.

Thank a 14.3 percent rise in property values within the school district, up to $3.25 billion, during the last year. Because of that rise, the Hays CISD trustees were able to pass an $86.7 million school bond in May without increasing taxes for the Fiscal Year 2009 budget.

The board set $1.4613 as the maximum tax rate, the same as on the present budget. Each penny of the tax rate generates $325,709 for the school district.

“We passed our bond issue, yet our tax rate will stay the same, as we proposed to the public,” Hays CISD Trustees President Chip DuPont said. “We’re turning agriculture-exempt fields into businesses and houses and finally getting the opportunity to use that growth to build schools.”

The state caps the school district at a $1.04 tax rate on the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) side, with the rest going to debt service, known as Interest and Sinking (I&S).

While the school district can keep all the local tax money generated on the I&S side, the M&O funds are equalized around the state. That means the school district doesn’t benefit in the same way from local property growth in the operations budget, because more tax money generated locally means less money comes from the state.

Trustees have suspected for nearly a year that they would have to ask voters to approve additional taxation for operations at some point in the near future. But that vote won’t be necessary concerning the FY 2009 budget.

“Unless there is an election called to vote on a proposed increase in the M&O tax rate, there is no way for that (rate to increase),” DuPont said. “In the future we will have to ask the public for the opportunity to raise that tax rate.”

The school board will hold a public hearing on the $132.5 million budget and tax rate on Aug. 28 at 6:15 p.m. at the Central Administration Office. At the meeting following the public hearing, the board will vote on the budget and set the tax rate.

While holding the line on the maintenance budget for another year, the board unanimously approved the hiring of nearly 100 new teachers and six administrators to start the 2008-09 school year. The action was indicative of summer hiring activity, as nearly 200 new employees were expected to attend the annual New Teacher Orientation on Tuesday morning.

For the present budget year, which ends on Aug. 31, the school board approved two budget amendments totaling $2.5 million, which includes an extra $200,000 for fuel and $2.3 million for a service reward to all employees with at least one year of service. The board approved the service bonus in May.

“When you have 125 buses with 65 to 70 gallons per bus at $4 per gallon, it adds up a lot faster than it used to,” said Deputy Superintendent Carter Scherff, who increased the fuel budget for FY 2009 by $500,000 for next year.

As a first step towards replacing Superintendent Kirk London, the school board unanimously agreed to interview the superintendent search firm of School Executive Consulting Inc., of Dallas, before the Aug. 28 meeting. London announced his retirement in June.

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