Voters will get a second chance on May 6 to decide how to pay the state a large sum of money in the School Finance scheme.
HISD held a Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, April 22 at Forest Brook Middle School to explain the reasons for another vote, and what consequences a FOR or AGAINST vote would have to taxpayers.
As the literature put forth by HISD stated, “Recapture on May 6 Ballot: How do you want HISD to Pay?”
Early voting started April 24 through May 2, and Election Day is May 6. A sample ballot is at www.harrisvotes.org.
HISD voters will be asked on May 6 how the district should pay its Recapture obligation to the state of Texas: by Purchasing Attendance Credits or through Detachment of Commercial Property.
As explained by Glenn Reed, HISD Budget & Financial Manager, a vote FOR means purchasing attendance credits by writing a check to the state for local property taxes. Currently the state figures this at $77 million.
A vote FOR will:
— The district will continue to make annual recapture payments for the forseeable future.
— If our total tax collections continue to grow, they will help offset or reduce these payments.
— The district will have more capacity to fund schools.
A vote AGAINST purchasing attendance credits means Detachment of the most valuable non-residential, commercial properties from the district’s tax rolls. These properties would be reassigned to other school districts for taxing purposes.
— Under current law, those commercial properties would be permanently detached, and the district would lose those tax collections.
— The district will face budget cuts and have less capacity to fund schools.
Mr. Reed said that under either scenario, the HISD tax rate may increase to keep teacher pay competitive and pay for fixed cost increases.
However, he stated, a vote AGAINST purchasing Attendance Credits (Detachment) would results in a higher rax rate over the next two to three years because the District will have less property to tax.
Reed explained that the reason for the “Recapture” is because HISD takes in more taxes than the state allows per student, and therefore must residtribute a surplus to property poor districts. The current School Finance law requires an equal wealth level per student in every district. The state reimbursement is currently about $5150 per student, and the legislature is studying raising this to about $5300.