Earlier this month, the nine-person school board approved the election that will occur on May 7. The district says the bond will not raise the property tax rate if approved. But that is not the same as not raising property taxes.
The current rate is $1.2570 per $100 of taxable value, with a $25,000 homestead exemption from the state.
With appraisal increases, adopting the same tax rate will escalate homeowners’ bills. The total 2022 property value in the district is not yet available, but if it grows the same percentage as last year, the bond will raise $24 million more in taxes in 2022. And with the area booming in population and value, it is likely to increase more.
The median homeowner in the district can expect to pay $840 more on their next tax bill if the new rate is adopted.
School districts account for over half of the property taxes collected by local governments across the state. In 2021, ISDs brought in nearly $40 billion. The state has responded to the growing taxes with compression or buying down local government tax rates with state dollars.
With property taxes highlighted over the last week, here's a snapshot of the amount brought in by local govs last year & the trend over the last 5 years.
ISDs account for the majority & their gross amount has increased YoY even w/ #txlege compression.
Data from @txcomptroller. pic.twitter.com/tFQmii5XZw
— Brad Johnson (@bradj_TX) January 26, 2022
Appraisal reform has long been discussed by state officials, and Governor Greg Abbott named it as one of his “Taxpayers Bill of Rights” planks. But other conservatives, like the Texas Public Policy Foundation, say the only way to adequately reform the property tax system is to abolish it.
Citing demographic growth, the district said the bond is necessary to support the student enrollment growth projected to come. It estimates the 10,600-student district will add 500 more students per year, including eclipsing 4,000 total high school students in five years.
The community is booming in population and property value, a trend that will likely continue to grow as Tesla’s Gigafactory is under construction just a short drive from the high school.
In 2019, voters approved a $284 million bond to fund land acquisition and the construction of other school buildings and athletic facilities.
The district is currently accepting bids from companies hoping to build the new high school should the levy pass.
Historically, school bonds in Texas pass more often than they fail. But last year was the first time that more bonds across the state failed than were passed.
But if the response from voters last year becomes a trend, ISDs will be forced to adjust their debt-issuing practices and approach to spending.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.