Troup, Chapel Hill schools to ask voters for higher tax rates

Published on Saturday, 12 August 2017 02:27 - Written by ROY MAYNARD, rmaynard@tylerpaper.com

Troup Independent School District will ask voters to approve higher taxes to make up for some state funding that’s going away. At the same time, Chapel Hill ISD will ask voters to approve a tax increase that will - because of some debt rolling off the district’s tax rate - result in a lower rate than last year.

Those tax ratification elections are scheduled for Aug. 26 for voters in those districts.

Troup will ask for 13 cents on top of its tax rate of $1.17 per $100 in property valuation, bringing it to $1.30 per $100.

Taxes on an average home in Troup, valued at $102,135, would rise from $908 this year to $1,078 next year. That’s an increase of about 18.7 percent.

“It’s one of those necessary evils,” said Troup Independent School District Superintendent Stuart Bird. “The state has done away with the ASATR program - Additional State Aid for Tax Relief - which was created in 2005. The program expires on Sept. 1, and the Legislature hasn’t given us any other relief. We have no choice.”

The last time the Legislature revamped public school finance, it lowered property taxes by a third, and instituted the business franchise tax. ASATR was established in case the franchise tax failed to bring in enough money. At first, nearly all Texas school districts qualified and received at least some ASATR dollars. That number has dwindled, but for districts like Troup and Chapel Hill, those dollars are vital.

Last year, Troup received $1.3 million from the fund. If the fund still existed, the district would have received about $772,000 for the coming year.

“We don’t want to raise taxes and nobody wants to pay higher taxes,” Bird said. “But when the state doesn’t send you the money, you either do it or you start making big cuts. If voters say no, then we will fund what we can out of fund balance. We have a healthy fund balance, but it won’t take long for us to spend that down.”

 

CHAPEL HILL

Chapel Hill will seek 5 cents added to its rate, for a total of $1.23 per $100. But because some old bonds are rolling off the tax rate, property owners in the district will actually see lower bills - the current rate is higher, at $1.24 per $100 in valuation. Still, the district must get voter approval.

The district’s I&S tax rate - that’s interest and sinking, or bond debt - is coming down from 16 cents per $100 of valuation to 11 cents per $100. The district is asking voters to approve an additional 4 cents on the maintenance and operations rate. The net result will be a tax rate lower than the previous year, but more operating funds for the district. Officials will use the money for facility improvements and capital equipment needs. In the future, that additional funding could be used for operating costs, staffing needs or raises for teachers and staff.

“I’m voting for it,” said CHISD board member Tammy Humes. “In the absence of meaningful school finance legislation, it’s an opportunity for us to get much needed funds.”

The higher rate will result in about $408,000 per year in additional funds. And it will leverage about $148,000 in additional funding from the state.

Early voting in the tax ratification elections continues through Tuesday, Aug. 22. Election Day is Saturday, Aug. 26.

Voting in the Troup election takes place at Troup Municipal Library, 102. S. Georgia St. in Troup.

In the Chapel Hill election, early voting takes place at 11134 County Road 2249 in Tyler. On Election Day, voting will take place at two locations: Chapel Hill High School (in the front corridor) and Jackson Elementary School (in the cafeteria).