HISD considers tax increase

HOUSTON The district has laid off hundreds of teachers. It's closing and consolidating some schools and now the district may raise its tax rate. HISD is still trying to make up for a $60 million shortfall in next year's budget.

"I don't want to pay more taxes," said Houstonian Brandi Cumberland. "I pay a lot."

Cumberland doesn't like the idea at all. Raising taxes, she said, should not be an option.

"I feel like its shaking coins out of the sofa," she said. "It feels like the taxpayers are being asked to cover a whole lot right now from the city and now HISD."

HISD has not had an increase in the property tax rate in four years. Since 2007, the tax rate has held at $1.15 per $100 valuation.

Most HISD board member say raising taxes is a likely scenario since most are reluctant to make further budget cuts.

"I believe it's something we seriously have to entertain because it's such a significant shortfall and I believe people would be so surprised by the devastating cuts if we have to take cuts further," said HISD Trustee Juliette Stipeche.

HISD has already slashed over $160 million from its budget, including laying off more than 700 teachers. Even so, there remains a shortfall of an estimated $60 million that needs to be cut to balance the budget.

While HISD waits for the state legislature to decide how to fund schools, trustees say they are forced to consider options that would not include more classroom cuts.

"If the only way to shore up the budget to be able to give that education to our students is with a tax increase, then I would consider it seriously to vote for it," said HISD Trustee Manuel Rodriguez.

For some parents, it's a tough decision. Many we talked to would support a tax increase as a last resort.

"It's not good, you know," said parent Rosemary Delafuente. "But you gotta do what you gotta do for your kids' school."

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