Rising property values help reduce tax rates for local school districts in The Woodlands area

Budgets for Conroe, Tomball and Magnolia ISDs are set for the 2021-22 fiscal year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Budgets for Conroe, Tomball and Magnolia ISDs are set for the 2021-22 fiscal year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Budgets for Conroe, Tomball and Magnolia ISDs are set for the 2021-22 fiscal year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)



Increases in the property tax base in The Woodlands area mean tax rates are not expected to increase in Conroe, Tomball or Magnolia ISDs in fiscal year 2021-22, according to their approved budgets. In all three districts, taxable property values are up more than 5% from FY 2020-21.

Revenues and expenditures in the districts are also higher in FY 2021-22 than they were in FY 2020-21. Payroll takes up the largest portion of all three FY 2021-22 budgets.

Conroe ISD

The Conroe ISD board of trustees unanimously approved its FY 2021-22 tax rate, a 3% decrease from the district’s FY 2020-21 rate, at its regular meeting Aug. 17.



The adopted rate of $1.176 per $100 assessment includes $0.9160 for maintenance and operations and $0.26 for debt service.

Certified property values for FY 2021-22 are expected to reach $42.12 billion, a 7.46% increase from the previous year, according to district officials.

That means despite a decrease in the tax rate, property taxes will support the district’s budgeted $596.12 million in general fund spending also approved during the Aug. 17 meeting.

According to the presentation, the district’s estimated total revenue is about $586.12 million. The $10 million difference between revenue and expenditures is made up by COVID-19 relief funding from FY 2020-21 to balance the budget, according to district officials.

CISD is eligible for roughly $100.03 million in additional state funding, according to district officials. The first round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds was authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, signed in March 2020, and must be used by the district by September 2022, according to CISD officials.

The district also received $34 million in CARES Act federal funds in late 2020 when Montgomery County opted to direct a total of $300 per student in the district for COVID-19-related relief.

When formulating the budget, CISD Chief Financial Officer Darrin Rice said the district considered the possibility of decreased revenue if daily attendance falls due to COVID-19 cases. The budget includes $12.5 million in ESSER III funding, which can be used through 2024, to offset attendance declines.

“Hopefully we’re at the 94% [attendance] range where we planned on [in] the budget,” Rice said. “We have a little security net in our ESSER III money earmarked.”

In a presentation to the board of trustees, Rice said the budget meets the needs for the 2021-22 school year. This includes providing a competitive compensation plan, continuing to meet needs outlined in House Bill 3 Reading Academy and Teacher Incentive Allotment and maintaining a safe environment for students and staff.

The HB 3 Reading Academy requires all kindergarten through third grade teachers and principals to begin Texas Reading Academies training before the 2022-23 school year to increase teacher knowledge and improve student literacy. Along with the reading academy, additional HB 3 components were calculated in the budget, such as the recapture program which helps to subsidize property-poor districts.

All district employees will receive a 3% raise in the 2021-22 year, but bus drivers will receive a 5% raise. The minimum salary in the district will be $12 per hour, and the new teacher starting salary will be $58,500, Rice said. The cost of the raises is $12.5 million.

Rice said CISD will fund 78 new positions within the district in the next school year. Payroll will take up 89.7% of the FY 2021-22 budget, according to the presentation.


Tomball ISD

Areas served by Tomball ISD will also see lower tax rates.

With property values increasing, TISD is anticipating lowering its property tax rate by $0.04 for FY 2021-22, which began June 1.

Taxable value estimates for the upcoming year indicate the district will see its tax base grow 9%, which is greater than the 6% growth previously anticipated, Chief Financial Officer Jim Ross said.

He previously projected in April the tax rate would remain the same, but presented the board with an updated tax rate of $1.25 per $100 valuation for FY 2021-22 in May, a decrease from $1.29 in FY 2020-21.

The board also approved a 2% general pay increase for employees next year.

Magnolia ISD

The MISD board of trustees unanimously approved a $121.6 million budget for FY 2021-22 at its meeting Aug. 23. The board also approved a property tax rate of $1.1872 per $100 valuation, a $0.0872 decrease from the ongoing fiscal year.

“We’re excited to have a balanced budget pass that has the largest one-time decrease in the tax rate,” Assistant Superintendent of Operations Erich Morris said.

The decrease in the tax rate will result in homeowners paying less in taxes even as the average taxable value has increased, he said.

The budget—a $1.5 million increase from the FY 2020-21 budget—includes a 2% raise for all employees and two one-time $1,000 bonuses. The budget also includes funding for 38 additional positions being paid for by ESSER funds, Morris said.

A total of 85% in the 2021-22 budget is allocated for payroll and salaries, Morris said. The 2% raise will cost the district $1.8 million with $800,000 funded by ESSER, according to a budget presentation. Morris said the two one-time bonuses are also being funded through ESSER.

Anna Lotz and Chandler France contributed to this report.

By Ally Bolender

Reporter, The Woodlands

Ally joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Texas State University. Ally covers education, local government, transportation, business, and real estate development in The Woodlands. Prior to CI, Ally served as news content manager of KTSW FM-89.9 in San Marcos, Texas.



MOST RECENT

The pandemic and other challenges have strained the available resources at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter. (Jishnu Nair/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County Animal Services resources stretched thin by pandemic

“[The COVID-19 outbreak] is coming at the worst time for us because it’s a bad distemper year,” MCAS Assistant Director Mark Wysocki said. “Either of those are a bit of managerial work. Together it’s a managerial nightmare.”

The new location will be the second for the franchise in the area, with the first being in Spring since 2005. (Courtesy Bruster's Real Ice Cream)
Bruster's Real Ice Cream anticipates November opening near Xscape Theatre

The new location will be the second for the franchise in the area, with the first being in Spring since 2005.

At a Sept. 11 practice, Houston Girls Hockey Association teams took the ice to prepare for their first games the weekend of Sept. 17. (Courtesy Houston Girls Hockey Association)
New Houston-area all-girls hockey league set to play first games this weekend, Sept. 17-19

The league was created to give school-aged girls a chance to continue playing hockey through college, since young girls can often feel discouraged playing on co-ed teams, Director of Membership Valory Zeck said.

(Courtesy El Mariachi Mexican Bar and Grill)
El Mariachi Mexican Bar and Grill opens on Rayford Road

The newest location opened Sept. 17 and offers a variety of chicken, beef and shrimp dishes.

Cpl. Lonnie Bruce Harrison, (right) Gov. Greg Abbott and members of the Montgomery County Constable Precinct 5 Office gather at the Star of Texas Awards where Harrison was a recipient. (Courtesy of Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley's office)
Montgomery County peace officer wins Star of Texas Award

Cpl. Lonnie Bruce Harrison was one of 46 winners of the award, which Gov. Greg Abbott personally presented to him in Austin.

graphic
DATA: How population changed in Texas counties between census counts in 2010, 2020

Texas added nearly four million people between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest Census data.

The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to install medians along 5.8 miles of FM 1092 from Hwy. 59 to Hwy. 6 in Missouri City. (Courtesy Fotolia)
As FM 1092 median project goes out to bid, some Missouri City Council Members still object

Construction on the project to install medians on FM 1092—also known as Murphy Road—is expected to begin in the winter and last for seven months, according to officials with TxDOT.

At the Sept. 14 Harris County Commissioners Court meeting, County Administrator David Berry, top left, presents proposed tax rates to commissioners Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey, Judge Lina Hidalgo, and commissioners Adrian Garcia and Rodney Ellis. (Emily Lincke/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County commissioners propose lower tax rates with split vote

While the proposed tax rate is lower than the current rate, tax payers may actually end up paying more since the values of homes statewide increased this year, according to County Administrator David Berry.

Harris County Precinct 4 and Montgomery County Precinct 3 are coordinating for a Gosling Road project. (Courtesy Montgomery County Precinct 3)
Montgomery County funds $4 million for Gosling Road project

The project will widen Gosling Road and a bridge over Spring Creek. It is anticipated to begin construction later this year.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough tours the COVID-19 antibody infusion center that opened Aug. 16.
(Courtesy Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough on Facebook)
Federal policy change reduces COVID-19 antibody treatment drugs coming to Montgomery County infusion center

A change in how the federal government distributes the monoclonal antibody treatment means a change for regional antibody centers administering treatments.

About 62% of Harris County residents ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County commissioners terminate $11 million Elevate Strategies vaccine outreach contract

“There’s absolutely nothing done here that was in any way deviating from the most adequate protocols, and what is sad … [is] that the COVID response is being politicized." -Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo