Election Day approaches Aug. 14: 10 questions answered about Magnolia ISD's Tax Ratification Election

Election Day is Aug. 14 for Magnolia ISD's tax rate election.

Election Day is Aug. 14 for Magnolia ISD's tax rate election.

The Magnolia ISD board of trustees will ask voters Aug. 14 to approve a Tax Ratification Election, which would provide the district with more funds for its day-to-day operations without increasing the total tax rate.

Election Day is Tuesday, Aug. 14.

As the election is the first TRE in MISD's history, here is a closer look at what the TRE would mean for the district and its residents if approved by voters in August, according to district officials.

For a further look at the district's budget and tax rate election, read this story from Community Impact's August cover.

Follow www.communityimpact.com for Election Day results on Tuesday night.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story was published on July 27 prior to the early voting period.




  1. What is the district asking me to approve?


The Tax Ratification Election asks voters to approve a 10-cent tax swap, which would provide the district more operational funds without increasing the total tax rate, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Erich Morris said. The tax swap would increase the maintenance and operations portion of the tax rate by 10 cents by subtracting 10 cents from the interest and sinking portion of the total tax rate, holding the overall tax rate at $1.3795 per $100 valuation.

The I&S rate funds only repayment of debts while the M&O rate can fund daily operations as well as debt repayment, Morris said.

Even though the total tax rate is not increasing, MISD must seek voter approval to increase its M&O rate above $1.04 per $100 valuation, according to state law, Morris said. If approved, the new M&O rate would total $1.14 per $100 valuation.

The maximum voter-approved M&O rate allowed by law is $1.17 per $100 valuation, Morris said.





2. Will my tax bill increase?
Passage of the TRE will not affect the district's overall tax rate, Morris said. The tax rate will remain at $1.3795 per $100 valuation.

Although rising property values in Montgomery County could lead to a higher property tax bill, MISD's total property tax rate will not change with the results of the election, Morris said.





3. Why does the ballot only mention that the proposed tax rate is 10 cents higher if the district is not increasing its property tax rate?
According to district information, state law only allows MISD to tell voters that the M&O rate is increasing. The ballot cannot include wording that the I&S rate is also being lowered.





4. Why does the district need more operational funds?
Although MISD's fiscal year 2018-19 budget avoids a deficit—regardless of whether the TRE is approved by voters—Morris said the district would struggle to meet program and staffing needs if the election fails.

Approval of the TRE would provide the district about $4 million more in funding to meet operational needs, Morris said.

MISD is seeking additional funding via the TRE because the district—like districts across the state—has seen the state's share of its funding decrease over the last several years as local property revenue has increased, resulting in essentially no change in its overall revenue from year to year, Morris said.

According to the state funding formula for public school districts, local property tax revenue makes up the first share of the district's funding per student. As local revenue increases, the state's share decreases.

In MISD, local funding has grown from about 49 percent of revenues in FY 2011-12 to about 65 percent in FY 2018-19. State funding has fallen from about 50.5 percent of revenues to 35 percent of revenues during that time, Morris said. Federal funding accounts for the remaining percentage.





5. How will the additional funds be spent?
Morris said the additional $4 million MISD will receive if the TRE is approved would go to salary increases, security improvements, staffing needs, increased campus budgets and program enhancements.

Here is a breakdown of the additional funds:

  • $2.75 million to award 4 percent salary increases to teachers

  • $600,000 to meet staffing needs, such as evaluating student-to-teacher ratios and employing additional staff

  • $400,000 to fund additional security needs

  • $250,000 to increase campus budgets and enhance student programs


Regardless of whether the TRE is approved, the district is prioritizing $1 million in its budget to fund security improvements, Morris said.





6. Will approval of the TRE affect the district's ability to repay its debt?
No. Morris said the TRE will not affect the district's debt repayment timeline or the district's amount of debt. About $3 million received on the M&O side—in addition to the $4 million allotted for district needs— from the tax swap would go to continue paying the district's debt, which is voter-approved debt from bond referendums passed in 2004 and 2015, Morris said. Funds collected by the M&O rate can go to repay debt as well as support operational costs, he said.





7. If the TRE is approved, could MISD increase its I&S tax rate in the future, therefore increasing the total tax rate?
No. Unless additional debt is approved by voters in the form of a proposed bond referendum, Morris said the district's I&S tax rate cannot increase above the rate necessary to continue repaying debts. Therefore, any increase in the tax rate would be triggered by voter approval of a bond referendum, he said. According to the existing debt structure, Morris said he does not foresee the I&S tax rate—or the overall tax rate—needing to be increased in the future if the TRE is approved.





8. How much will the district spend to hold the election?
Morris said he estimates the election will cost the district about $30,000 to $35,000, although the exact amount was unknown in late July.





9. If I am paying more in property tax revenue, why does the district need more funding?
Increased property tax revenue—local funding for the district—does not increase the district's total funding amount per student.

The state allows districts to collect a basic allotment per student. This has remained at $5,140 per pupil since FY 2015-16. As the state has placed a cap on the basic allotment, districts with more local revenue receive fewer state dollars. Residents paying more in property tax to school districts does not mean the districts are receiving more overall funding.

According to the state funding formula for public school districts, local property tax revenue makes up the first share of the district's funding per student. As local revenue increases, the state's share decreases.

In MISD, local funding has grown from about 49 percent of revenues in FY 2011-12 to about 65 percent in FY 2018-19. State funding has fallen from about 50.5 percent of revenues to 35 percent of revenues during that time, Morris said.






10. Where can I vote?
Registered voters can cast a ballot at their precinct-specific polling location on Election Day, Aug. 14, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

  • Bear Branch Junior High School reception area
    31310 FM 2978, Magnolia
    (County precincts 3, 6, 34, 61, 69, 76, 81, 89)

  • Magnolia Junior High School main lobby
    31138 Nichols Sawmill Road, Magnolia
    (County precincts 13, 18, 28, 29, 65, 66)

  • Magnolia High School Omega room
    14350 FM 1488, Magnolia
    (County precincts 30, 74, 90)

  • Magnolia West High School faculty lounge
    42202 FM 1774, Magnolia
    (County precincts 9, 91)




By Anna Lotz

Editor, Tomball/Magnolia & Conroe/Montgomery

Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor for the Tomball/Magnolia edition. She began covering the communities of Conroe and Montgomery as well in 2020. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.



MOST RECENT

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Texas Medical Center coronavirus updates: Testing positivity rate continues to climb, surpassing 11%

Between July 26 and Aug. 1, an average of 11.5% of patients tested positive for COVID-19.

Wildcat PPE opened at 301 S. Trade Center Parkway, Conroe in June 2020. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
INVESTIGATION: Wildcat PPE’s lawsuits, layoffs highlight faulty federal procurement process under pandemic

Wildcat PPE became the fourth-largest employer in Montgomery County virtually overnight but now faces accusations of poor quality products and unpaid invoices.

Mahesh's Kitchen, an upscale Indian restaurant, is preparing to open in Sugar Land Town Square near the end of August. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Upscale Indian restaurant coming to Sugar Land; Freebirds Tex-Mex to open in The Woodlands and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area, including that E-bikes will not be permitted on The Woodlands Township pathways.

student writing on paper
Texas Legislature allows parents to opt for students to repeat grade levels or courses

Senate Bill 1697 is effective for the 2021-22 school year.

The studio opened on July 13 in Magnolia. (Courtesy Woodland Lane Ceramics & Art Studio)
Woodland Lane Ceramics & Art Studio opens on Sweetgum Lane in Magnolia

Owners Kinsey and Jesse Lane opened Woodland Lane Ceramics & Art Studio on July 13.

HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE: Magnolia Home Xperts weigh in on home remodeling on a budget

Magnolia Home Xperts owner David Davis offers tips for homeowners to make the most of a home remodel, including affordable ways to improve the value of a home.

HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE: Tomball-based Moore House Interiors shares 3 interior design tips

Ashley Moore, CEO of Moore House Interiors, based in Tomball, shares what to consider when pursuing interior design services.

DATA: Tomball, Magnolia see homes sale prices increase year over year while Pinehurst sees slight decline

Home sales accelerated throughout the Greater Tomball and Magnolia areas year over year for the 12-month period spanning June-May.

The Tomball ISD board of trustees was named the Region 4 School Board of the Year for the 2020-21 school year by the Texas Association of School Administrators School Board Awards Program. (Courtesy Tomball ISD)
Tomball ISD board named Region 4 School Board of the Year

The Tomball ISD board of trustees was named the Region 4 School Board of the Year for the 2020-21 school year by the Texas Association of School Administrators School Board Awards Program, according to a July 15 release from the district.

TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries announced in late July walk-in and same-day appointments are now available at its Magnolia clinic, located within the Magnolia Landmark Building on FM 1488. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries now accepting walk-in appointments in Magnolia, school supply drive-thru planned in Tomball

Families in need of school supplies can contact TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries for more information on a school supply drive thru slated for Aug. 7 in Tomball.

Owner Justin Haecker opened Bexar Berbecue’s brick-and-mortar location in June 2020. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
From farmers market beginnings, Bexar Barbecue celebrates one year at brick-and-mortar in Tomball

Bexar Barbecue Owner Justin Haecker had a passion for cooking ever since growing up on a small family farm in Bexar County and watching his grandmother cook, he said. He always cooked for his friends, whether it was as simple as ramen noodles or more complicated like homemade tacos, Haecker said.