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Denton ISD tax swap approved

A small percentage of voters living within the boundaries of Denton ISD overwhelmingly approved a measure on Saturday to increase the district's maintenance and operations tax rate.

With all 55 precincts reporting, a little more than 80 percent of voters approved what's known as a tax swap. Less than 2 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in the tax ratification election.

"We're very pleased with the results," Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson said. "It's a tribute to the work that our teachers are doing every day."

Voters were asked to approve an increase in the district's maintenance and operations tax rate, bringing it from $1.04 per $100 valuation to $1.06. The revenue generated by that portion of the property tax goes into the district's operating budget that pays for salaries, supplies and other daily expenditures.

The board lowered the interest and sinking tax rate from 50 cents to 48 cents per $100 valuation with the approval of the tax ordinance. Those tax funds can be used only to pay off bond debts on facilities.

Although the overall Denton ISD property tax rate remains the same at $1.54 per $100 valuation, district officials estimate the tax swap will bring roughly $7.9 million more in funding to the district next year through a mix of state funds and local tax dollars. The actual dollar amount of a homeowner's tax bill may inflate as property values continue to rise, but the school district tax rate will stay stable.

Wilson said he expects the money to go toward technology upgrades and new school buses. He also said the district wants to continue maintaining employee salaries that are competitive with other schools in the area.

"We want to be able to keep as much of our local tax dollars as possible," Wilson said. "When I was out talking about the proposal in the community, I would get questions about why we were only asking for 2 cents. Frankly, that's all we need right now."

Only 2,166 voters out of a possible 109,963 cast ballots in the election. According to numbers from Denton County Elections Administration, Precinct 1012 had the highest voter turnout of precincts in the district, with 6.18 percent of eligible voters there casting a ballot. That area, located off East Windsor Drive near Nottingham Drive, is zoned to Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

Superintendent Wilson attributed the low voter turnout to the irregular election date and the need to meet deadlines for tax statements, which should be mailed out by Oct. 1.

“It was the only thing on the ballot for this election,” he said. “While we would prefer a November election dates, we need to meet those tax deadlines. Meeting those deadlines means the county doesn’t have to replicate tax statements."

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.