Early voting ends on Tuesday at the Elections Administration Office in the Refugio Shopping Center. Election day is set for Saturday, Aug. 20.
The school district is asking voters to increase the school tax rate by 13 cents per $100 valuation. The increase cost to taxpayers is estimated to be approximately $72 per year for the average home owner in Refugio.
The latest figures from the Appraisal District show the average market value of a residence homestead for 2011 is $43,902.
If approved by the voters, the tax increase will garner approximately $500,000 in revenue for the district. Ironically, the state will recapture approximately the same amount because the school district is considered a property wealthy school district. Because of a good year in the oil and gas industry, the Robin Hood law kicks in on the tax increase as well.
Superintendent Jack Gaskins says a challenge lies ahead for the district to make up the $700,000 shortage from state funding. Should the tax election fail, the board will consider moving forward with a deficit budget, and/or looking again at every line item for more cuts.
With the biggest part of the budget going to payroll, more personnel cuts would have to be considered. The district has moved personnel around and staffers have picked up additional duties.
“At some point with cuts, you begin affecting education and we don’t want to do that and we won’t do that,” Gaskins said.
The first cutback involved 16 positions, three of which have been added back so the district, is down 13.
The district also phased out junior high tennis as well as three additional positions, including the assistant principal, the athletic trainer and a counselor.
The school also suffered a 30-student decline in student enrollment in December.
“We’ve searched out every possible way to meet our operational budget for the coming year,” Gaskins said. “The election is one possible way to meet the challenge.”