Argyle voters OK school tax increase

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Voters living within the Argyle school district approved a 6-cent maintenance and operations tax rate increase Saturday.

The tax ratification passed with more than three-fourths of the vote with 441 voting for the measure and 134 voters against. According to the Denton County Elections Administrators website, of the district’s more than 5,500 registered voters, a little more than 10 percent cast their ballots in the special election.

“I am very, very grateful to the voters in Argyle ISD for making this decision for the district,” Superintendent Telena Wright said. “This is going to allow us to balance the budget for the 2012-13 school year.”

She said without voters approving the tax rate increase, the district faced taking more than half a million out of reserves to offset expenses this fiscal year and also faced “devastating cuts the 2013-14 school year.”

“I’m very appreciative to the voters for their support of the school district,” Wright said.

With the vote passing, the school district can officially increase its maintenance and operations tax rate, which funds day-to-day operations, from $1.04005 to $1.10005 per $100 valuation and offset increased expenses for this fiscal year, district officials have said.

On Aug. 6, the district adopted an overall $1.48 per $100 valuation property tax rate, which included the 6-cent maintenance and operations increase and a 4-cent decrease to the interest and sinking tax rate, which funds the district’s debt payments. Essentially, the overall tax rate is a 2-cent increase from the previous fiscal year.

Because the maintenance and operations tax rate adopted by the board was above $1.04, the state required the Argyle district to call a tax ratification election for voter approval.

The adopted tax rate was based on a certified estimated rather than a certified total, allowing the district to opt for an early tax rate adoption process.

This allowed the district to hold its election prior to the general election in November and prior to the deadline adopted tax rates are to be submitted to the Denton County tax assessor/collector’s office for the printing of tax statements. In following this process, the district was also able to adopt its tax rate prior to adopting the current fiscal budget.

The average home value in the Argyle school district is $357,264. District officials have said with the tax ratification vote passing, the tax bill on that average-valued home will increase by $71.

District officials have said the increased rate is projected to generate an additional $583,000 in revenue and create a more than $66,000 surplus.

“I think this is a great day for Argyle,” school board President Kevin Faciane said Saturday evening. “I’m really proud of the community for making a statement through their votes today. It’s clear our citizens place a lot of importance in our schools, and our citizens today made a statement that they’re willing to make some personal financial sacrifices to make an investment in our schools and to continue our positive and balanced learning environment that exists within the Argyle schools.” 

The district on Aug. 20 passed its current budget, which included a $516,000 deficit. The current fiscal year began Sept. 1.

General fund expenses for this year with the approval of Saturday’s vote are projected to total more than $15.4 million. With the passing on the tax ratification Saturday, revenue is projected to total more than $15.47 million.

Liz Stewart, the district’s chief financial officer, said at that time that the district would amend its budget to reflect the additional revenue generated by the increased tax rate should the tax ratification pass. The vote would have no impact on the interest and sinking tax rate, she said.

 

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@

dentonrc.com.


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