Pearland ISD could seek tax increase to prevent deficit

The Pearland ISD board of trustees meets once per month.

The Pearland ISD board of trustees meets once per month.

Pearland ISD is in the preliminary stages of planning its 2018-2019 budget and is looking at several options to prevent a $12.4 million deficit, a worst-case projection shared with trustees on Thursday that includes a 3 percent salary increase.

This projection is not cause for alarm, as is early in the budget process, district spokeswoman Kim Hocott said.

In order to prevent the deficit, the board is considering making one-time budget cuts or going out for a tax ratification election, which is a special election called by the board of trustees in order to raise the maintenance and operations tax rate above $1.04.

The board has the option to increase the maintenance and operations rate by 13 cents, raising the total tax rate to $1.17.

The district is losing money from the state and is suffering from an enrollment decrease, officials said.

“We had initially projected about a 350–more or less–growth, and we ended up only growing 50 kids and of course, that affected our revenue. For the following fiscal year, we’re projecting the same level of enrollment,” Pearland ISD Chief Financial Officer Jorgannie Garza Carter said at the budget workshop.

Carter also said that people who are retiring or no longer have children in schools are not selling their homes, which would allow new families to move in. Also, the homes in Pearland are typically too expensive for younger families who would be enrolling kids, Carter said.

The board is at the beginning of the process, so nothing is decided in terms of salaries or going out for a TRE.

In addition to raising salaries, the board is also considering hiring more personnel to address student mental health needs and changing employee benefits.

The board will have its next budget workshop at 4 p.m. May 10 where it will discuss more options.
By Haley Morrison
Haley Morrison came to Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after graduating from Baylor University. She was promoted to editor in February 2019. Haley primarily covers city government.