By KAROLYN GEPHART
A decrease in the tax rate in Friendswood ISD is official: a decrease of 2 cents was approved when the tax rate was adopted at the Aug. 14 meeting of the FISD Board of Trustees.
The new 2017 tax rate for FISD is $1.367.
This decrease was possible due to the increase in taxable property values in the area, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Connie Morgenroth.
Last year, voters approved a 9 cent increase in the M&O rate in a Tax Ratification Election or TRE; however, the Debt Service rate was decreased by 7 cents, for an overall two cent increase.
By dropping the Debt Service rate two cents this year, the District’s overall tax rate will be back to $1.367, the same rate before the tax ratification election.
“FISD is a slow growth district surrounded by fast growth districts, and staying competitive with teacher salaries is a real challenge. The formula does not provide enough funds to keep us competitive with these fast growth districts. For that reason, we had a tax ratification election (TRE) last year, which our voters approved, and increased our maintenance and operations tax rate by nine pennies,” Superintendent Thad Roher said.
The money was used to give raises to FISD teachers to keep their salaries competitive with neighboring districts. School officials offset most of this increase on the M&O side with a seven penny decrease in the Interest and Sinking tax rate, the portion of the tax rate that pays off the bonds used to build facilities. Those funds cannot be used for any other purpose.
“The board approved another two penny decrease on the I&S rate at last night’s board meeting. This means that our overall tax rate will be back to where it was before the TRE,” Roher said. “It is important to note, if the TRE had failed, the District would be facing a $2.8M budget deficit in 2017-18, so the importance of its passing cannot be overstated.”
Morgenroth feels it is all about trust.
“We felt it was important after coming to the voters last year for a tax rate increase and they approved it, we felt it was important to have good faith and build trust with our tax payers. We want to be transparent and good stewards of our tax dollars. We can give those 2 pennies back to the voters and build that trust,” Morgenroth said.
FISD has posted a video, “Making Sense of Your 2 Cents,” on the website and can be viewed at https://youtu.be/bb91XlhGclU.