Sixty-five percent of voters living in Skidmore-Tynan ISD cast ballots in favor of the tax rate increase; 35 percent opposed it.
Results are unofficial until ballots are canvassed; however, school officials reported late Friday that 218 residents who live in S-TISD voted for the measure and 120 voted against it.
S-TISD Superintendent Dr. Brett Belmarez said he views the passage of the proposed tax rate increase as a vote of confidence.
“I appreciate the message the voters sent to us tonight, that they like the job we are doing for our young people,” he said. “And I want voters to know that we appreciate their support and will continue to do the best job we can for our students, our faculty and staff, and our community.”
Belmarez said the tax rate increase will raise an estimated $355,000 — the amount needed to balance the 2008-09 budget.
The 6-cent increase will fetch $75,000 in local tax dollars and $280,000 in matching funds from the state because S-TISD is considered a property poor school district, Belmarez explained.
The election is needed because school trustees voted in September to adopt a $6,557,666 budget and proposed tax rate of $1.28 that is higher than the rollback rate of $1.21.
S-TISD presently charges taxpayers $1.38 for every $100 worth of property they own. Of that amount, $1.04 goes to maintaining and operating schools and 34 cents goes to pay off long-term debt.
Fortunately for S-TISD, the state agreed this summer to pick up more than half of the school district’s $3.9 million bond debt, approved by voters last May. The Infrastructure Funding Allotment grant will allow the school district to lower its debt service rate from 34 cents to 17 cents per $100 value.
The 6-cent tax rate increase approved by voters Friday will allow the school district to boost its maintenance and operations tax rate from $1.04 to around $1.11 per $100 value for a combined tax rate of around $1.28.
Even though the school district is levying a lower tax rate than last year, $1.28 compared to $1.38, a new state law requires school districts to hold a tax rate election whenever they want a tax rate increase.
Taxpayers who are 65 and older and disabled will see no increase in taxes.
Had the tax rate election failed, Belmarez said S-TISD would have had to make significant cuts in the budget, which was adopted in August.
Belmarez said the school district might have had to cut jobs and even successful educational programs had voters rejected the tax rate increase request.
The school district received a “recognized” rating by the Texas Education Agency for test scores, dropout rates and attendance rates during the 2007-08 school year. Two campuses received the TEA’s “recognized” rating as well for that school year.
The school district also has won 18 “Gold Performance” awards from the TEA.
In addition, all S-TISD campuses and the district as a whole met federal “No Child Left Behind” requirements.
Additionally, some S-TISD teachers earned three state grant incentive paycheck awards due to outstanding TAKS performance scores.
The outcome of Friday’s election revealed that an overwhelming number of S-TISD taxpayers believe the school district is doing a great job educating children, Belmarez said late Friday.
“Sixty-five percent of the voters voted for (the tax rate increase) and only 35 percent voted against it,” he said. “I think the majority of the voters in the school district sent us a message, and that message is that they want to make sure we have the funding to continue to be successful in the future.”