Tomball ISD tax rate not expected to change in 2013, budget hearing set for July

Taxpayers in Tomball are not expected to experience a Tomball ISD tax rate increase in 2013. The tax rate increase tied to the bond election that passed in May will likely take place incrementally over the next several years, district officials said.

Jim Ross, TISD's chief financial officer, presented budget details to the school board at its third budget workshop meeting June 10.

Ross' presentation called for a one-cent increase in the maintenance and operating tax rate, from $1.01 to $1.02. The budget also involves a one-cent decrease in the interest and sinking tax rate—which the district uses to make debt payments. The overall tax rate will remain at $1.36 per $100 valuation.

"I feel very comfortable that we can balance our debt services budget with a .34 [interest and sinking] tax rate," Ross said. "This will be the sixth year of the exact same overall tax rate."

The interest and sinking tax rate will eventually increase to .3995 to help pay off debt from bond projects.

Estimated revenue for 2013-14 is $91.15 million, an 11.84 percent increase from last year. The general fund budget totals $92.15 million, a 7.16 percent increase from last year. The general fund includes money to hire 96 new staff district-wide.

Most of the hiring will be for new teachers, Ross said. This district is looking to bring on about 62.5 new teachers, 9.5 professionals and another 24 paraprofessionals and hourly positions.

The 7.16 percent increase in the general fund is meant to help the district deal with the nearly six percent increase in enrollment last year. Ross said enrollment will continue to grow.

"Next year, I was projecting a 5.2 percent increase [in enrollment], but our demographer says we might see another six percent increase," he said. "When you look at the rate of inflation and the growth of enrollment, a seven percent increase [in the general fund] is actually pretty decent."

The state legislature also increased state funding for school districts in the 2013 legislative session. Funding for Tomball ISD increased by about $1.6 million, but the money does not come close to restoring the $12.5 million cut between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, Ross said.

With the third budget workshop in the books, Ross recommended the school board host its budget hearing July 8, where the board can discuss the proposed tax rate with the public. If all goes well, the budget could be adopted July 9, Ross said.

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.