Proposed Leander ISD budget includes 6% increase, mandated tax rate cut

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The Leander ISD board of trustees has scheduled an Aug. 22 public budget meeting, when it intends to discuss and probably adopt the proposed 2019-20 school budget and tax rate.

The action was taken after a budget development update at the board’s July 18 regular meeting.

The proposed budget of $358,686,073, a 6% increase over the previous year’s budget, is due mostly to three reasons, according to Lucas Janda, a former district employee who is contracting with the district to finalize the budget.

An increase in school personnel is needed to meet growing student enrollment, Janda said. School officials anticipate a 2.8% increase in K-12 enrollment for the upcoming school year. Projected enrollment for the upcoming year is 40,877.

Pay raises from 4% to 7.7% and increased employer contributions to health care plans were the other two major factors for the budget increase. However, an anticipated 6.5% increase in property values in the district may result in a decrease in the tax rate, Janda said.

The board’s current rate of $1.51 includes a $1.04 maintenance and operations tax rate, which pays for day-to-day operations, and $0.47 interest and sinking tax rate, which covers debt.

In the July 18 presentation, the budget department recommended a drop in the total tax rate to $1.44, including $0.97 for the M&O and $0.47 for the I&S tax rates. The M&O drop is to meet a state mandated “compression” of tax rates.

By state law, the board of trustees may lower—but not raise—the advertised tax rate before adoption, according to Superintendent Dan Troxell.

State law mandates that school districts must adopt budgets by Aug. 31.

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