Rio Vista ISD trustees are asking residents for a 13-cent property tax increase for the district’s maintenance and operations budget to ensure sufficient funding to provide quality teachers and facilities for students.
If the Tax Ratification Election passes, the total tax would be $1.49 per $100 of property valuation. On a $100,000 home, under the proposed rate, the tax would total an additional $115 per year, or $9.65 a month.
RVISD Superintendent Tim Wright said that the district has maintained the same M&O tax rate — $1.04 — since 2007.
“The district has lived on that tax rate, no matter how much the oil, gas and everything else has gone up,” he said. “This is why we, and many other districts, have been struggling. At the proposed rate of $1.17, it is still 28 cents lower than it was in 2005 at $1.45.”
House Bill 1, passed in 2006 as property-tax-relief legislation, reduced property tax rates. That year, RVISD tax collections went from $1.45 to $1.32, then to $1.04 in 2007. The district is capped at $1.17 without a change in state law, Wright added.
“We have to pay our teachers and do other things with the daily operations,” he said. “Eighty percent of M&O goes to salary.”
Though the district previously underwent a reduction in force and lost several teachers through attrition, Wright said similar cuts are not planned for the immediate future.
However, teachers deserve a step pay increase, as do other district employees, he said. Health insurance costs have gone up, so the amount of money teachers and staff take home is continually less than in years before.
District employees who are not teachers, such as custodians and cafeteria workers, would receive a 3 percent pay increase, while principals and Wright would receive no pay increase.
“We’re not asking for a raise,” Wright said. “We’re asking the public to help our schools.”
The increased tax rate would provide the district with $560,000 in additional funding for 2012-13, as well as each year thereafter, depending on the housing market and property values. It would also help bring the district’s fund balance to the Texas Education Agency’s recommended level, which is no less than two months-worth of operational budget.
RVISD survives on roughly $7 million a year, Wright said.
“For the average person, $9.65 a month is a trip to McDonald’s or a trip to the movies, once a month,” he said.
If the M&O tax rate stays the same this year, the district stands to collect $1.36 per $100 of property valuation, and the amount of money received will fall from $6,710,465 in 2011-12 to $6,493,389, because of, in part, decreased property values. However, with the increase, the amount of money collected would rise from $6,710,465 to $7,054,513.
According to TexasISD.com, 39 districts are listed to have a TRE before November. Twenty-four elections have already occurred, with 87 percent ratified. Crowley ISD voters on Sept. 8 approved a 13-cent property tax increase.
Residents 65 and older or disabled homesteads will not see a tax increase if the TRE passes.
The district will hold two public meetings, the first at 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at Rio Vista Elementary School and the second at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Rio Vista Civic Center. For all information on the TRE, visit www.rvisd.net.