“Hey boss, I quit. Now, pay me for the next two years of work I’m not going to do.” Try that line out where you work and see where it gets you. Hard to imagine that logic paying off — unless you’re a disgraced executive at Katy ISD. Superintendant Lance Hindt, who’s spent the past few weeks fending off accusations that he bullied fellow students when he was a youngster, will walk away from his job with an eye-popping severance payout. The blame lies not with the outgoing superintendent, but with the Katy Independent School District board of trustees. Voters need to remember that elected school board members have squandered three-quarters of million taxpayer dollars, money they could’ve put to better use hiring a new superintendant. view article arw

The enthusiastic exchanges of high-fives throughout Dallas ISD and among its supporters these past few days are  certainly warranted: The district does seem to be doing a lot right, as most recently evidenced by across-the-board growth in the state's STAAR assessment testing.  If only the financial picture was as bright. Instead, things are about to get worse. In the 2018-19 school year, the threat of DISD being forced to send millions of scarce tax dollars back to the state becomes reality. view article arw

Residents may soon receive an appraisal notice from the Walker County Appraisal District. The appraisal district mailed about 15,594 appraisal notices on May 8. City, county, school district and other local taxing units will use the appraisal district’s value to set residents’ 2018 property taxes. Under Texas law, county appraisal districts are required to notify property owners about changes in their property’s value. The notice contains important information about the property’s location, ownership and property tax exemptions that apply. It must also include an estimate of the taxes by local taxing units if a resident’s property value increased in the last year.Property owners who disagree with the appraised value of their property, the exemptions or any other action by the appraisal district have the right to appeal to the Walker County Appraisal Review Board (ARB).  view article arw

The Texas Twilight Zone’

May 1108:30 AM

Repost!  Appeal launches next round in KISD tax suit.  Kilgore ISD has fired the next salvo in an ongoing battle over its local option homestead exemption. In a recent brief to the Sixth District Court of Appeals, KISD attorney Dennis Eichelbaum likens the district to William Shatner’s tormented character in the Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” – the lone passenger who can see an airplane is under assault by “something on the wing.”  According to Eichelbaum’s latest brief in Axberg v. KISD, Judge Vincent Dulweber’s February ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in a tax lawsuit against the school district was wrong in its reading of state law. KISD, he writes, stands by the “grammatical, proper interpretation” of 2015’s Senate Bill 1 that supported trustees’ repeal of the school’s exemption – before voter approval and before the law was applied retroactively. Link to brief.   view article arw

The cities of Columbus and Weimar, along with Weimar ISD, will likely experience decreases in the taxable value of property within their municipalities, while the city of Eagle Lake will see a nearly ten percent increase in its taxable property values for 2018, according to figures released by the Colorado County Central Appraisal District this week. According to the 2018 Certified Estimate of Taxable Value for entitles levying property taxes in the county, the city of Columbus’ total estimated taxable property values will drop 4.38 percent, to $294,675,320 from $308,184,412—a difference of just over 13.5 million dollars. view article arw

McALLEN — School district officials here are reaching out to the public for feedback on possible plans to place a tax ratification election before voters this fall.  The measure would levy more pennies from its tax rate to cover maintenance and operations needs.  The election, known as TRE, would allow the McAllen school district to leverage more funding from 11.5 pennies out of its total tax rate of $1.155 per $100 valuation, using them to fill a void left by expiring disaster funding. view article arw

The Burnet Consolidated Independent District has been developing its budget since January and conducted its first budget workshop in March. The next budget workshop is June 4. A key data point in developing the district’s budget is property values. Burnet County property value estimates were provided to BCISD by the Burnet Central Appraisal District on April 25. BCISD had been working under the conservative assumption of a 5 percent property value increase for the upcoming school year, but the actual estimate came in higher at 9 percent. view article arw

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held its May Work Study Tuesday evening where they took the first look at next year’s budget and discussed the need for a tax rate election view article arw

“It’s confusing,” said the Floresville school district’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations, Bill Atkins, at an April 26 presentation. “That’s one of the reasons we’re out here earlier explaining.”  The district is asking property owners for their cooperation at the ballot boxes Aug. 25 in its plan to garner more state funding. view article arw

The Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District is considering a tax increase of four percent, claiming state funding for its schools has dropped $5.6 million in the past ten years. The district in suburban San Antonio would join several others around the state, adopting property tax increases which must be passed by voters after school board approval. The proposed increase of five cents on the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD’s maintenance and operations levy would move the district’s rate from $1.49 per $100 property valuation to $1.54 per $100. view article arw

Property values soared by double digits in 15 Wise County taxing entities in the past year. Every entity showed growth, according to the 2018 preliminary tax value estimates released last week by the Wise County Appraisal District. Slidell ISD showed the largest increase, jumping 26 percent to $238,373,618. Decatur ISD, the largest school district in the county, could see an increase of 11 percent to $2,184,913,055. The district added $72,578,170 in new construction. Bridgeport ISD is expected to see a 4 percent jump and remains the county’s second-largest taxing entity at $1,358,100,054. view article arw

Does Amazon need another reason to knock Dallas off the list for its second headquarters? Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is doing plenty to hurt our chances. This week, Paxton filed a lawsuit to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that offers temporary status to unauthorized immigrants who grew up in America and finished school here. Six states joined the suit. Like hundreds of other companies, Amazon is a big supporter of the so-called Dreamers. Last fall, Amazon was among the marquee names that signed on to a multistate lawsuit to keep DACA in place. In January 2017, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also opposed the travel ban ordered by President Donald Trump. view article arw

H-E-B celebrated the opening of its Mont Belvieu store at 13401 Interstate 10 East. view article arw

Rising property values and rising taxes burden many of the homeowners in Austin. Businesses struggle to keep up. The property appraisal notice you have in the mail does not always represent the taxes you pay. Fighting the value is important, but it does not mean you’re fighting taxes. view article arw

The Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District board is considering a tax ratification election this summer to make up for a state funding shortage. The district said that, in the last decade, state funding has dropped by $5.6 million. view article arw

Oakwood Independent School District Superintendent Donny Lee has filed for a tax election on July 14 to increase tax earnings allocated to the district's maintenance funds – but without raising taxes. The tax swap – from OISD's interest and sinking bankroll to its maintenance and operations funds – would not raise taxes, but would eventually allow the district to expand career and technology education (CTE). Districts levy interest and sinking taxes to pay for bonds issued to construct schools. view article arw

During Tuesday night’s McKinney ISD meeting the Board of Trustees discussed the 2018-19 budget, which included a tax rate decrease and addition of Security Resource Officers to elementary schools. view article arw

Lexington ISD is struggling with how to balance an anticipated $700,000 budget shortfall. That's the worst-case scenario after a mine outside of Elgin started shutting down this year. The small community, about 40 miles east of Austin, hasn't seen their school district tax rate increase in a decade. However, this year that rate could jump to the state maximum after Luminant -- a major payer on their property tax role -- shuttered their Three Oaks Mine.  "There's been rumors for years that there's the possibility of a closing but it finally came to pass in January," says Lexington ISD Superintendent Tonya Knowlton. view article arw

One of Dallas ISD’s most combative trustees is up for re-election — and who wins her seat could determine whether the board will ask voters to approve a 13-cent tax increase in November.  Whoever sits in Bernadette Nutall’s District 9 seat could cast a critical swing vote when the nine-member board of trustees decides on whether to pursue the tax hike, an increase that DISD officials say is much needed. view article arw

The Willis school district announced limited open enrollment for four campuses to students outside its boundaries in an attempt to avoid giving money to the state to be redistributed to poorer school districts. Parents of students living outside the Willis ISD attendance boundaries will have an opportunity to enroll their children in select Willis ISD schools for the 2018-19 school year through a Limited Open Enrollment period April 23 through May 18. Those campuses include C.C. Hardy Elementary (K-5), Lynn Lucas Middle School (6-8), Brabham Middle School (6-8) and Willis High School (9-12). view article arw

The Whitney Independent School District (WISD) Board of Trustees met in a regular session Monday, April 9, and denied a request from the Hill County Appraisal District (HCAD) for an office expansion project. Entities throughout the county have been considering the proposal from HCAD, which is seeking funding from the jurisdictions it serves to increase its office space. While other entities have had concerns about the proposed price tag of up to $425,000, many conceded that the space was needed and approved the request after presentations from HCAD Chief Appraiser Mike McKibben. view article arw

Round Rock school district Superintendent Steve Flores sent a letter to parents Monday afternoon saying district staff are prepared for an expected student walkout on Friday.  The walkout is a national protest against violence in schools and the lack of new legislation on gun control.  Students throughout the nation are expected to gather outside of class at 10 a.m. and take 13 seconds of silence to honor the 13 people killed in the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. view article arw

Floresville Independent School District residents can expect to hear more about a tax ratification election in the next several months.  District trustees will call for an August election.  FISD Partners got a preview at their April 10 meeting from district officials.  Included was a picture of the school district’s financial status, which notes that since 2010, the state has reduced funding for the district by an estimated $3.6 million.  To recover an additional $1 million in state support, officials propose moving a percentage of the district’s tax revenues from paying off debt into paying for maintenance and operations. view article arw

More than 40 states, the Trump administration and three justices have criticized the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision that keeps states from collecting sales tax from retailers without a physical presence in those states, saying it is obsolete in an era of e-commerce.  But it was unclear after an hour of oral arguments Tuesday whether a majority of the court is ready to reverse the decision, or whether the issue of sales tax on online purchases is best left to Congress and the marketplace. view article arw

Third verse, same as the first.  Dallas ISD will take yet another shot at getting a 13-cent tax increase before voters. Whether they can convince enough members of the board to do so, well, only time will tell.  On Thursday, during a budget workshop for the board’s trustees, DISD administrators -- including superintendent Michael Hinojosa -- put forward their newest plan on asking for a tax ratification election in the fall that would provide approximately $116 million yearly in additional funding. view article arw

Gonzales ISD considers tax swap

April 1308:33 AM

At their meeting of the Board of Trustees on Monday, the Gonzales Independent School District heard a presentation given by Dr. John Walch of Walch Educational Consulting during a budget workshop. Dr. Walch has over 13 years of experience assisting districts leverage their local dollars to maximize state funding without raising taxes. Prior to serving as a consultant, Dr. Walch served as Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer to public school districts including Fredericksburg, Mason, and Bastrop ISDs, so he understands through personal experience what it can mean for a district to be deemed "property wealthy" by the Texas Education Agency.  view article arw

Klein ISD voters could be asked to approve a 9-cent tax rate increase in June. At its meeting Tuesday night the KISD board of trustees heard a budget presentation and recommendation for the district to hold an election in June to increase its tax rate to make up for budget shortfalls. The district’s tax rate consists of two parts. The larger part funds the district’s maintenance and operations, and this rate has been $1.04 per $100 assessment since 2006. In his presentation last night, KISD Chief Financial Officer Dan Schaefer recommended increasing the maintenance and operations rate by 9 cents to $1.13 per $100 assessment. view article arw

Humble ISD is requesting that Harris County conduct a reappraisal of properties within its boundaries to reimburse taxpayers whose property values may have lowered due to damage sustained during Hurricane Harvey. The school board approved an order authorizing property tax value reappraisals within the school district during their April 10 meeting. view article arw

The Texas Commission on Public School Finance met Thursday in Austin to examine property taxes and hear from a variety of stakeholders on how they’ve been impacted by the tax rates. This is part of a series of meetings the commission is holding throughout the year to develop and make recommendations on how to finance Texas’ public schools. view article arw

With the first Ector County Independent School District Bond Advisory Committee meeting set for April 9, Superintendent Tom Crowe reviewed the need for a tax ratification election and bond election at a special workshop meeting Tuesday. Crowe said a little more than 100 invitations had been sent out for the gathering, which is set to start at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa, 300 E. 29th St. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. view article arw

With Athens ISD trustees' approval of the freeport tax exemption, obstacles to enacting it in time to apply to 2018 taxes continue to fall. At a previous meeting, school board members said they were interested in exempting freeport inventory from property taxation if sufficient revenue-protection agreements known as payment-in-lieu -of-taxes agreements were obtained from taxpayers with significant freeport inventory. Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1989 allowing local jurisdictions the option to exercise their authority to tax specific personal property, otherwise known as freeport goods. view article arw

Texas prides itself on economic competitiveness, but in 2017 it fell to fourth place in a ranking of top business states, landing outside the top two for the first time in 11 years. In their interim report, members of a state House committee cited increased global competition, increased housing costs, outdated infrastructure and “certain actions taken by the 85th Legislature” — the so-called bathroom bill, for example — as reasons for the low ranking. But to address an emerging mismatch between jobs and workers’ skills — another key problem the report identified — the committee said that Texas must address property tax issues by allocating more state funding to public education. view article arw

The Ector County Independent School District has scheduled a special workshop for parents next week with some very important discussion topics. The district will be discussing the possibility of having another bond and tax ratification election (TRE). view article arw

South San Independent School District leaders are considering the possibility of a tax ratification election to increase the maintenance and operation tax rate from $1.04 to $1.17. view article arw

About six years ago, Fidelity Investments was gearing up its operation in Westlake and was soon recruiting over 200 workers a month from Massachusetts, California and elsewhere.   “The first question they asked: 'What are the schools like?'” said Fidelity executive Scott Orr.  That issue has taken on more significance today because employers are competing aggressively to attract talented workers and hold on to those they already have. In a booming economy with low unemployment, the quality of education has become a major factor in corporate decisions to relocate and expand. view article arw