SANGER — The Sanger school district is asking residents to consider a 13-cent operations tax rate increase on Sept. 6.
At a meeting Monday, the school board voted 7-0 to call a tax ratification election. In a separate 7-0 vote, the board adopted an ordinance setting the tax rate for 2014 at $1.502067, which breaks down to $1.17 per $100 valuation for the operations tax and 33 cents for the debt tax rate, also known as interest and sinking.
The ordinance also stipulates that should voters approve the $1.502067 tax rate on Sept. 6, the debt rate will be lowered by 13 cents, to 20 cents per $100 valuation, and offset the increase to the operations rate, Superintendent Kent Crutsinger said. The 13-cent deduction to the debt rate would essentially leave the district with a $1.37 per $100 valuation tax rate and no tax rate increase.
Voter approval of the operations tax rate increase would allow the district to generate about $615,000 in additional state funding and $985,000 in local funding as a result of increases in estimated property values, Crutsinger said.
“We hope it’s a no-brainer for our voters to say it puts the burden back on the state to give us back money that we’re taxing on our voters,” Crutsinger said. “When you tax at a high rate from $1.04 to $1.17, the state gives you more ... taxation effort, so those dollars earn you more or pennies earn you more than what you would at $1.04, and so the maximization that we’ve seen from that rate is how we see additional funding. It’s kind of a mechanism that’s there, but the state doesn’t always tell you it’s there.”
If the election fails, the operations tax rate would revert to to $1.04 per $100 valuation and the interest and sinking tax rate would remain at 33 cents per $100 valuation. That equates to an overall tax rate remaining at $1.37 per $100 valuation, and no additional funding generated for the district, according to officials.
“Regardless of what happens, we’re still going to have a $1.37 [tax rate],” Crutsinger said.
Sanger is the latest school district in Denton County to call a tax ratification election. Last month, the Krum school district also called a special election for Sept. 6, asking voters to consider increasing its maintenance and operations tax rate by 13 cents. In recent years, the Argyle, Lake Dallas and Pilot Point school districts have all successfully passed tax ratification elections.
School districts are required by the state to call a tax ratification election in order to adopt an increase to their maintenance and operations tax rate above $1.04 per $100 valuation.
The Sanger school board last month approved an employee compensation package for the 2014-15 year that includes 2 percent pay increases at a cost of $268,609. Should voters approve the 13-cent operations tax rate increase, Crutsinger said employees could see an additional 2 percent pay increase.
A draft of the 2014-15 budget, which the school board is slated to adopt next month, is still a work in progress, Crutsinger said. Specifics of the draft budget were not readily available.
Crutsinger said the board adopted a tax rate Tuesday using certified property value estimates. Certified values are being released July 25.
According to a 2014 Tax Ratification Election Information and Timeliness document put together by the Texas Association of School Boards, a tax ratification election must be held within 30 to 90 days of the tax rate being set. If the uniform election falls within that time frame, the election must be on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Crutsinger said he expects a video and question-and-answer document detailing the special election to be posted to the district website, www.sangerisd.net, by July 24.
Early voting for the special election will take place Aug. 20 to Sept. 2 at the Sanger ISD Administration Building and a mobile site at Sanger High School. Voters will go to the polls at the Sanger ISD Administration Building on Sept. 6. Plans for public forums to discuss the special election are still to be determined, Crutsinger said.