Voters support measure to use more Lake Travis ISD property tax dollars to fund maintenance expenses

Voters approved the Lake Travis ISD tax ratification election. (Courtesy Lake Travis ISD)
Voters approved the Lake Travis ISD tax ratification election. (Courtesy Lake Travis ISD)

Voters approved the Lake Travis ISD tax ratification election. (Courtesy Lake Travis ISD)

Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect final voting totals and comments from Superintendent Paul Norton.

Lake Travis ISD voters supported a tax ratification election by 59.12% that would generate an additional $3 million in funding to the district, according to unofficial election results.

The funding for maintenance and operation expenses would not be subject to recapture by the state. This tax proportionally lowers interest and sinking tax rates in the district.

“The last time we had a [tax ratification election] was in 2017, and the approval in 2017 as well as this year shows great support from our community for Lake Travis ISD,” Superintendent Paul Norton said. “We appreciate the community’s support and look forward to doing great things in the future.”

Under recapture, if a district generates excess funding from taxes—a threshold determined by the state—it is taken by the state to be distributed among districts that do not meet their funding requirements. Since 1993, Texas has utilized a “Robin Hood” system to recapture funds from schools who have excess income, or annual tax revenue that is higher than the maintenance and operations costs determined by the state, according to the Texas Education Agency. Those funds are then redistributed to districts that do not meet the maintenance and operations cost threshold, the TEA said.

In 2019, the state passed House Bill 3 in an effort to gradually dismantle the Robin Hood system by capping and compressing school district tax rates. This has led to lower tax rates in recent years for some school districts, particularly in wealthier areas. In order to make up for those lost revenues, state money is used to supplement up to the funding threshold set by the state, according to the TEA.

LTISD receives funds from the state through House Bill 3, but it is not as substantial as some other districts in the area, Norton said. Even so, these funds require a certain amount be put toward teacher pay, which helps keep LTISD teacher salaries competitive, Norton said. Prior to 2019, districts were only permitted to have six golden pennies, but the passage of House Bill 3 allowed districts to gain up to eight golden pennies, according to the TEA. Lake Travis gained its two remaining golden pennies with this election, Norton said. Golden pennies are not subject to recapture.

The proposal raises LTISD's maintenance and operations tax rate from $0.8826 to $0.9026, while cutting its interest and sinking tax rate from $0.3475 to $0.3275. The net effect is zero change in the overall total tax rate. Maintenance and operations taxes pay for teacher salaries, utilities and day-to-day operations in the district, while revenue generated from interest and sinking taxes pay off bond debts used for school construction, according to LTISD. Effective repayment of these bonds by the district in recent years has allowed for the interest and sinking rates to drop, according to the LTISD website.

All results are unofficial until canvassed. Visit our online Voter Guide for all local election results in your community.
By Grace Dickens

Reporter, Lake Travis/Westlake

Grace is the Lake Travis/Westlake reporter for education and city government. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2021 after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in journalism and geography.