The Hutto Independent School District ordered a tax ratification election, or TRE, that if successful, will raise the tax rate to $1.67 per $100 of property valuation—a move district officials say is necessary to prevent more budget cuts within Hutto schools.
On July 12, the board voted to approve a 13 cent increase. District officials say the proposed rate increase is needed to offset a $1.2 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year.
Last November, voters rejected a similar measure that would have raised taxes 6 cents per $100 of property valuation. The failure prompted the board to make steep cuts in April, and officials said without a TRE, more would be imminent.
At a public hearing before the board meeting, Ed Ramos, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, presented parents and residents with budget documents to explain the district budget shortfall and discuss what programs could be cut if the district does not make up the shortfall.
"If the TRE doesn't pass, then the $1.2 million we have cut would be permanent," Ramos said. "We would have to go back to the drawing board and look at another $1.3 million [cut] for the following year."
Ramos said without the TRE, possible measures could include further cuts to music and arts programs, instituting fees for transportation or eliminating bus routes.
"Our job is to give the information now so they make a good decision on the vote," Ramos said.
The new rate reflects a maintenance and operation tax rate of $1.17 and a debt service tax rate of 50 cents. Since the maximum M&O tax rate a district may adopt by law without a rollback election is $1.04, the board also called for a tax ratification election with a date set for Sept. 1. Should the measure fail, the M&O tax rate would fall back to $1.04.
For more information on the Hutto ISD budget, visit www.hutto.txed.net