SAISD Board calls for Bond and Tax Ratification elections
Aug. 15, 2016
San Antonio ISD Board of Trustees voted Aug. 15 to call for both a $450 million bond and a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) to raise the District’s Maintenance & Operations tax rate by 13 cents. Voters residing within the District’s attendance zone will be asked to consider the two separate ballot propositions in November to provide funding toward extensive school building renovations, upgrades for 21st-century classrooms, and programs for expanded learning opportunities outside the normal school day.
The decision to move forward on the Nov. 8 elections followed recommendations from a community-based Blue Ribbon Task Force, which toured schools and reviewed District facility and academic needs.
The bond would fund renovations at 13 schools, replacing aging infrastructure systems that in most cases are more than 40 years old, upgrading science labs and expanding other classroom spaces to the recommended state guidelines. The renovations would enable the District to provide facilities that are more equitable with what is offered in neighboring school districts.
The increased operating revenue generated from the TRE would assist the District in providing technology and other classroom enhancements districtwide to meet today’s educational standards. The TRE also would provide additional funds for teacher compensation for afterschool and summer programs that target the approximately 40 percent of students in need of additional academic support, as well as expanded extracurricular offerings for students across the District.
SAISD trustees voted to set the M&O tax rate at $1.17 per $100 of tax valuation, up from its current rate of $1.04. An M&O tax rate above $1.04 requires voter approval. If voters approve, or “ratify,” the 13-cent increase, it would generate an additional estimated $15.6 million in tax revenue, which the state would then more than match with an estimated $16.5 million contribution, for a total of $32.1 million.
“In light of the recent Texas Supreme Court ruling, upholding the state’s public school funding system as constitutional, we believe the only means for generating additional state revenue for daily operations is through a TRE,” SAISD Board President Patti Radle said. “Together the TRE and bond would bring additional academic support to every SAISD campus, and further our efforts to modernize our many aging schools.”
School district tax rates in Texas have two parts: the Maintenance & Operations (M&O) tax, which pays for day-to-day operations, such as salaries, utilities and supplies; and the debt service rate, also known as Interest & Sinking (I&S) tax, which is used to pay down bond debt used to finance school construction and renovations – but may not be used for daily operating costs.
Estimated Tax Impact
The 13-cent increase to the M&O rate would take effect in 2016. It’s estimated that the I&S rate would increase by 12 cents incrementally over five years, starting in 2017, to support the proposed bond program.
If both proposals pass, the impact to the owner of an average taxable-value home in SAISD of $70,023 would be an initial increase of $7.59 a month in 2016. In 2017, the impact is estimated to be an additional $1.16 for a total of $8.75 a month, which would incrementally go up to $14.59 a month by 2020.
Under Texas law, in 2017, the Board could implement an additional $5,000 homestead exemption. If that exemption is enacted, the monthly tax impact for the average homeowner in 2017 would be $2.37 instead of $8.75; and then would go up incrementally to $7.79 a month by 2020.
SAISD property taxes for senior citizens would not be affected by either of the two proposals as long as a homestead and over 65 exemption application has been filed with the Bexar County Appraisal District, and they have owned the home as of Jan. 1, 2016.
The District is committed to remaining good stewards of taxpayer dollars, as seen with the SAISD Bond 2010, which has been financed by a property tax rate that has, through effective financial management, been consistently lower than what was originally projected. Bond 2010 included renovations to 22 schools, as well as safety and security upgrades across the District, and is on track to come in at or just under budget.
Later this week, the District will launch a dedicated website, www.saisd.net/bondTRE2016, where you can find more detailed information about the proposals’ impact to the total tax rate and to tax bills.