Districts want you to vote on tax increase

HOUSTON Alief ISD, Humble ISD, and North Forest ISD are all holding votes in the next month to try and increase property taxes. Each of the districts says a state freeze on school funding combined with the economic downturn have left them strapped for cash and that raising taxes is the only way to avoid significant cuts.

Of Alief ISD's 6,000 employees, about 250 could lose jobs if voters do not approve a tax increase.

"There's a lot of things that will have to go," said Alief ISD Superintendent Dr. Louis Stoerner

Dr. Stoerner says most layoffs would be support staff, not teachers. Programs outside core courses of math, English, science and social studies, though, could be reduced or cut entirely.

"No one wants a tax increase. I can understand that," he said. "But this district needs it. It's out of necessity."

Alief wants to increase its tax rate by 7 and a half cents per 100 dollar home valuation, which amounts to about $80 per year for a $100,000 home. Other districts want even greater increases. Both Humble and North Forest ISD are asking voters to approve a 13-cent tax rate increase, the maximum allowed by law.

Alief ISD says a state funding cap combined with ever escalating costs for fuel and electricity have contributed to the schools' financial woes.

This district is known back as far as the 1970s as one that provided a premier education. Over the years, the neighborhoods have changed. Many of the homes are now owned by working class folks, who say any increase would these days be too much.

"It's not right for me," said homeowner Horacio Santiago. "It's too much money."

The tax votes are coming up soon. Alief ISD hold its election November 20. The date for Humble ISD is set for November 22. And voters in the North Forest district will cast a ballot December 6.

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