Waco Independent School District Board of Trustees approved a one-cent increase to the district’s tax rate for the 2017-18 budget year.
The board voted Thursday to approve the change from $1.40 per $100 of property value to $1.41. The extra penny on the rate will go to the debt-service fund.
The board also approved a 1.1 percent raise for teachers and a 1 percent raise for non-teachers in the 2017-18 budget cycle. The general fund budget will be $143.3 million, the child nutrition budget will be $10.1 million and the debt service budget will be $14.7 million, according to district documents.
No one showed up to speak during a public hearing before the vote.
“We have no new money from the state this year, so we did not have as many additional requests as we wanted to have in prior years,” Chief Financial Officer Sheryl Davis said. “We approved funding for three additional dyslexia teachers. … We expanded the construction science academy and we also lost some funding for our SAT and ACT testing, so the district has picked up that cost. Then instructional coaching positions were funded. Some of those, but not all of the positions, their funding was cut at the federal level, so we picked up some of those positions in our general fund.”
The new tax rate will help Waco ISD handle a $2 million drop in state funding this school year because of increases in local property values, Davis said.
“After the 2017-18 year, because our values are going up as fast as they are, it’s projected we will no longer get any state aid for debt service,” Davis said.
Because much of the increase to property value has happened in the city’s Tax Increment Financing zones, the district doesn’t see the full benefit of its expanded tax base. A portion of property tax revenue in the TIF zones goes toward general improvements in those areas.
The district’s general fund TIF contributions are reimbursed, but its debt-service fund contributions are not, Board President Pat Atkins has said.
The tax rate won’t change for homeowners who are 65 or older or who are disabled. State law freezes their rates in place, Davis said.
Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson said work has already started on the 2018-19 budget.
“I know I speak for my staff that we’ve already started that process,” Nelson said. “And every department head can tell you we’re reviewing our staffing patterns and really trying to be as efficient as we can and good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.”