The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees approved a 6 cent tax rate increase, along with a final $160 million budget for the 2012-13 school year.
The board approved the 6 cent increase to the interest and sinking (I&S) or debt service portion of the tax rate, raising the rate from 44 cents in 2011 to 50 cents, the maximum the state allows. With the district operating under a balanced budget for the 2012-13 year, the maintenance and operations tax rate at $1.04 remains unchanged from the previous year.
But with the prospect of the district adding more debt through future bonds, which officials say are required to keep up with growth demands, finance officials in the district called for an increase in the I&S rate.
Kenneth Adix, chief financial officer for PISD, said Templeton Demographics, a demographer hired to assess the district's growth, projected PISD enrollment to increase by 300 students next year. Projections for the next six years show enrollment numbers climbing by additional 6,000 students. Because of that growth, district officials say more bonds will be necessary to build schools and facilities to accommodate an influx of students.
Adix said with plans moving forward for the district to approve another bond—needed to finance the construction of a fourth high school in Pflugerville—overall debt capacity is a major concern.
"We know [that] to pay off our existing debt, principal and interest is going to be about $480 million," Adix said. "Given that amount of debt we would have [with the additional items proposed to be on the bond], we would need the I&S to be at 50 cents."
Adix said by setting the I&S rate at 50 cents, the district can reduce debt and interest by more than $5.5 million.
At the meeting, members of the board of trustees expressed reluctance to raising taxes.
"We have to by law, [educate] those kids. That's the dilemma we're in," trustee Jimmy Don Havins said. "I don't want to take on more debt either, but we're hurting right now ... we're already overcrowded."
According to district estimates, the increase would cost the average Pflugerville homeowner an additional $7 per month in taxes.