At least one more town hall meeting on the tax ratification election will be scheduled in October as the Waco Independent School District board of trustees rushes to convince the community to approve the tax rate increase before early voting begins Oct. 19.
In Thursday’s meeting, the trustees agreed that more public meetings were needed in different parts of Waco to ensure that people without transportation can attend.
“We cannot give the (community) enough information about the TRE,” Superintendent Bonny Cain said.
The board approved a 13-cent tax rate increase in August, raising the maintenance and operation rate from $1.04 per $100 of property valuation to $1.17, while at the same time lowering the debt service rate 8 cents from 31 to 23 cents.
Voter approval is required to raise the M&O rate above $1.04, but is not required to raise the debt service rate. The board discussed in previous meetings raising the debt service rate in the upcoming years.
Trustees recommended hosting a meeting near Mission Waco on North 15th Street, possibly using the West Avenue Elementary campus.
The board already has scheduled more than 20 meetings with private organizations. In a previous interview, board President Pat Atkins said he did not want to inconvenience the community and if groups already were meeting, the district was willing to travel.
“Where two or more are gathered, we will come: have presentation, will travel,” Cain said.
Trustee Norman Manning also volunteered a location in East Waco for a public meeting, but was unsure about a suitable date.
At each meeting, the board will present an informational video that explains the differences between the two tax rates and how it affects homeowners’ bills. It also will explain how the estimated $8.2 million of additional revenue will benefit the district. Much of the revenue will be used to hire pre-kindergarten aides, middle school reading teachers and teachers to expand the Brazos High Credit Recovery Center for middle school students.
Trustee Cary DuPuy asked administrators to make sure the video clearly states what the district sees as its problems and how the money will provide the solutions.
“I think we need to make sure the voters know that this money we’re going to spend is going to be used for an effective end,” DuPuy said.