Voters in Friendswood ISD passed the Tax Ratification Election (TRE) September 10 by 156 votes or 53 percent. A total of 2,390 citizens voted with 1,267 voting for the increase of the district’s Maintenance and Operations (M&O) tax rate above $1.04 and 1,111 against the increase.
School officials report that the tax rate increase will be used to balance the budget, which includes a $1500 salary increase for teachers. The salary increase was given for FISD teachers’ salaries to stay competitive.
“The results are in and the citizens of Friendswood have spoken. Education is a priority,” School Board member Tony Hopkins said.
Board member Matt Robinson agreed.
“As the father of three FHS graduates and a member of the FISD school board for the past eight years, I have never so proud of the Friendswood ISD community… In difficult times, under difficult circumstances, Friendswood has once again spoken in favor of what matters most to us–our schools,” Robinson said.
A TRE is a special election to approve an increase held because the school board has the authority to levy an M&O tax rate up to $1.04 but any increase above that amount requires voter approval.
On June 13, the Board adopted an M&O tax rate of $1.13, an increase of 9 cents, and lowered the I&S rate by 7 cents for an overall tax rate increase of 2 cents. Since the M&O amount is greater than $1.04 voter approval was required.
The District’s tax rate is composed of two parts: Maintenance and Operations (M&O) tax rate and the Interest and Sinking (I&S) tax rate.
The M&O fund pays for day to day district operations such as payroll, utilities, and maintenance of schools and facilities. The I&S fund is used to make payments on district bonds.
Currently, the District’s tax rate is $1.367 ($1.04 for M&O and $.327 for I&S). The board adopted a tax rate of $1.387 ($1.13 for M&O and $.257 for I&S) for 2016.
Current property taxes and state funding do not provide enough funding for district needs, according to FISD officials. Many districts tax above $1.04 in order to meet the educational needs of their students. FISD has not increased its M&O tax rate since 2002.
While local revenue increases from higher appraisals, the school district does not benefit from this. As local revenue increases from higher appraisals, state funding decreases.
The only increase to funding is through increased student enrollment/attendance, increased tax rates, or changes in state funding.
Story by Karolyn Gephart