Wichita Falls School Board trustees will be asking taxpayers to approve a Maintenance and Operations tax increase while reducing the tax for debt service in a special June election.
This comes after an almost four and a half hour board meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
WFISD officials said the main benefit if voters say yes, will be increased financial contributions from the state, money the district could use for facility repairs and other projects that a bond issue could not address.
Officials are currently at step four in a five-step plan geared toward school improvement.
“We had a demographic study completed, we had a strategic plan that we underwent, we had a facility plan completed and now we are trying to get our finances in order, and the way to do that is a tax ratification election,” WFISD Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said.
This special election is asking taxpayers in the WFISD to approve an increase in the maintenance and operations tax rate while decreasing the debt service tax rate by $.05.
But in order to automatically trigger the election, the WFISD school board moved to adopt a tax rate of $1.35 for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
By voting for the tax ratification, the debt service rate, which is currently $.18 cents, will be dropped to zero, and the M&O tax rate will increase from $1.04 to $1.17.
“It brings additional revenue to us from the state of Texas, not from the local taxpayers and that’s really important to consider that we could increase our per-student funding as a result,” WFISD School Board President Elizabeth Yeager said.
“We’re getting the state to pay 60% of our current debt, we pay 100% right now in Wichita Falls,” Kuhrt said.
WFISD is now in the bottom 3% of school funding from the state and this step four of the plan for school improvements could bring the district higher in that standing, and then to complete the strategy step 5 would be a bond issue.
Early voting is from May 29 to June 11 and election day is June 15.
You can find more details on the tax rate “swap and drop” by clicking here.