The Pearland ISD board of trustees called for a voter-approval tax rate election, or VATRE, at its Aug. 21 board meeting in an effort to bring in additional revenue to close a shortfall in its budget.

The overview

PISD is facing a $12.7 million shortfall in its fiscal year 2023-24 budget, which was approved in June, and is looking at a VATRE that would add more than $11 million to its revenue, according to district documents.

Among rising costs and the district pinning blame on the state for not increasing public school funding in this year’s legislative session, some high-cost items in the new budget, according to district documents, include:
  • Refreshed student devices
  • Employee salary increases
  • Insurance
  • Additional staff requests
Despite concern and some skepticism from board members in recent months, the vote was unanimous from those present. Trustee Nanette Weimer was the lone person absent from the meeting.

Voters will decide in November if they want the new tax rate, which, even if approved, would result in an overall tax decrease from last year due to recent legislation from the state.

By the numbers

The new tax rate, if approved in November, will sit at $1.1373 per $100 valuation, which is $0.09 higher than the maximum allowed by the state, according to district documents.

That new rate is more than $0.16 lower than last year’s rate of $1.3027 due to new legislation, Senate Bill 2, which was passed by the state in July and compressed tax rates across the state.

That legislation will result in the tax bills for homes going down despite property values going up. However, part of that depends on a $100,000 homestead exemption that will also be on the ballot in November.

In PISD, for example, the average home that was valued at $310,301 in 2022 but will go up to $370,301 in 2023 will see a tax bill decrease of about $548 if the VATRE were to pass in November.

Without the VATRE, the average taxpayer would save an estimated $764 on their tax bills, according to district documents.

What they’re saying

Superintendent Larry Berger at the Aug. 21 meeting said he’d been asked what would happen if the VATRE does not pass. The district then would look toward personnel and program cuts, he said.

Trustee Kris Schoeffler said the board voting in favor of it doesn’t mean they individually support the tax rate but instead means they are leaving it up to the voters in the district to decide.

“It’s not that any of us are necessarily advocating for or against this; we’re taxpayers too,” he said. “But there’s a need there, and just us voting for it doesn’t throw our support behind it.”