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DISD to mull debt tax rate

Profile image for By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer
By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer

School board to weigh benefits of current rate versus 1-cent increase

The Denton school board will weigh its options on the district’s debt service tax rate within the next month.

Superintendent Jamie Wilson said a discussion about the debt tax rate will be placed on a board meeting agenda in the next two to four weeks. He said he expects the district’s financial advisers to explain the benefits of maintaining the current debt tax rate and considering a 1-cent increase.

Property owners currently pay 49 cents per $100 valuation in debt taxes. A proposal to increase the rate to a maximum 50 cents was presented in June.

District property values are up by more than $1 billion, according to certified tax rolls released by the Denton Central Appraisal District on July 24.

Denton schools owe $773.7 million in outstanding debt, according to district documents.

The school district currently has a $2.7 million principal debt payment scheduled into the debt budget for the current fiscal year, according to a district official.

At the current debt tax rate, the district could pay off an additional $4 million in debt obligations sooner, Debbie Monschke, the district’s executive director of budget and finance, told board members at a meeting Tuesday. A penny rate increase could allow the district to pay about $5 million more in debt obligations sooner, she said.

The 1-cent hike would reflect a $10 annual increase in the tax bill for a home valued at $100,000.

There are no plans to modify the district’s $1.04 per $100 valuation operations tax rate, according to district officials.

However, the growth in property values could mean a 2 percent pay increase for all district employees.

Monschke said the property value growth will generate an additional $3 million in revenue for the operating budget.

Wilson said the additional revenue will offset the $4.7 million budget deficit the board adopted in June.

The operating budget includes a more than $2.8 million compensation plan for district employees that requires board approval. The school board is scheduled to vote on the plan after receiving a report from finance advisers on the effects of the new tax appraisal rolls, board President Glenna Harris said.

This will be the latest in the fiscal year that the board has ever considered pay increases, Wilson said.

If approved, the starting salary for teachers with no experience would increase from $48,000 to $48,750, according to district officials. In total, the district intends to spend more than $3 million for pay raises. The bulk of the raises — about $2.5 million — will go to teachers, district officials say.

Harris said she’s pleased that the increase in appraised values will allow the district to consider offering pay increases for all employees.

The board will consider adopting the tax rate Sept. 9.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.