Both measures to approve the tax rate and call the district's first voter-approved tax rate election passed 5-2, with places 2 and 7 trustees Mary Bone and Danielle Weston, respectively, representing the "no" votes. Weston and Bone expressed concern about approving a tax rate that could be voted down in November. Should voters deny the higher tax rate, budget projections show a shortfall of around $33 million, district staff said. In this scenario, the district would also be unable to give employees an additional 3% in compensation increases.
What they're saying
Bone also expressed concern about the long-term impact to the district's fund balance.
Both Bone and Weston also shared concerns around the dependence of the additional compensation increases on the tax rate election. Given current economic conditions, Weston called for an efficiency audit to find different means of funding them.
"I'm morally opposed to strong-arming teachers into voting for their pay raises," Bone said.
RRISD Chief Financial Officer Dennis Covington addressed these concerns, telling trustees they could choose to dip into their fund balance to maintain planned expenses, or district staff could bring an amended budget to the board for approval later in the year.
This total rate is made up of a $0.7210 maintenance and operations, or M&O, rate, and a $0.1980 interest and sinking, or I&S, rate that goes toward debt service. These combined rates will fund the district's budget as well as cover its debt payments.
The adopted rate is $0.1436, or 13.5%, lower than the rate of $1.0626 per $100 valuation ratified for fiscal year 2022-23. The board approved a budget in June based on the assumption of a 10% increase in taxable value, according district documents, as certified values from the Williamson and Travis central appraisal districts were not yet available. The higher values lowered the maximum compressed rate, a base M&O rate set by the state. This rate for FY 2022-23 is $0.6410 per $100 valuation with the district adding $0.08 in golden pennies.
What residents need to know
Revenue generated by golden pennies in a district's tax rate are not subject to recapture, or "Robin Hood" payments, of which RRISD is expected to make over $77 million to the state for FY 2023-24.
Taxpayers with a home value of $500,000 can expect to see their annual tax bill due to the district decrease by $258.50 in 2024 under the adopted rate, district documents show. A table with additional values is available here.