Money troubles in Cy-Fair ISD

HOUSTON Cy Fair officials say they are facing a more than $28 million budget shortfall. But many homeowners say raising taxes in this economy should not be an option.

One of the options the board is considering is doing away with the homestead exemption. Mother of two and realtor Maria Bowen says it would hurt her personally and professionally.

"You're going to have to pay extra money now," Bowen said. "Who's going to want to... You're not going to be able to sell your home. You're not going to be able to buy a home."

Ted Michaelson is the father of four children in the district. He is not convinced the district has exhausted all other options.

He said, "My first thought, being a businessman, I'm in business for myself, is any time you've got problems with your revenue is that you've got to look inside. You've got to look in and see what kind of things you can cut."

The district is also considering eliminating 500 positions, eliminating programs and services and a tax rate election for additional 13 cents Cy-Fair ISD Assistant Superintendent Kelli Durham said, "We could take drastic cuts and our budget is essentially 89 percent personnel. So, we're talking people. Between 400 and 500 people will lose their jobs. And with them will go programs."

The district says it is at a disadvantage with a mostly residential community and a complicated state funding formula. That's something a representative from State Senator Dan Patrick's office admits is broken

"Raising taxes on taxpayers in a 'less than right' economy is going to be difficult," admitted Court Koenning, Chief of Staff for St. Sen. Dan Patrick. "We want to try to fix that with maybe some options that we have in Austin."

There is a school board meeting on June 15, and a special board meeting on June 25. Homeowners will be allowed to speak at those meetings. The district stresses that seniors over age 65 would not pay any increase in taxes.

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