HISD meet to discuss new budget proposal

File image: HISD
June 20, 2013 8:27:19 PM PDT
HISD board members meet later today to consider adopting a budget proposal that's expected to raise taxes for property owners.

HISD has long been the school district with the lowest tax rate in Harris County. Regardless of which option -- if either -- is chosen, that distinction won't change.

Here's a comparison. HISD's current tax rate is $1.156 per every $100 of property valuation. Spring ISD is $1.57, Pasadena at $1.35, Katy is at $1.526, etc.

What's proposed for HISD is a two-cent increase in the tax rate, which would make up a for lingering state education funding cuts, as well as provide $20 million to expand the Apollo school tutoring to other struggling schools in the district, and $5 million for campus needs.

The price for the owner of a roughly $200,000 home is $33.82 more a year.

Option number two is a four-cent increase, which would include more money for tutoring and campus needs and a 2 percent raise for teachers at double the tax incease.

It follows a billion-dollar bond election voters approved last year and rapidly rising property appraisals but Superintendent Terry Grier says he expects the tax rate to be approved.

"Many people have said to me the same thing I said last night, 'I'm willing to pay more taxes if we get in return a good investment on our dollar,'" Grier said.

"I don't think the school board realizes how much the tax rolls are going up; how much the appraisals are going up," said Paul Bettencourt with Bettencourt Tax Advisors. "They seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the entire central business district is up 53 percent in one year. And so far, HCAD is not reducing those values in hearings."

The Houston Federation of Teachers doesn't object to a pary raise, but it does wonder if the school board will sign off on it because of timing.

"You don't want to raise taxes in an election year, but if they don't raise taxes and we continue to fall behind, they'll have to pay for it in another way too," said Andy Dewey with the The Houston Federation of Teachers.

A vote on the tax rate is set for October.

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