Wichita Falls School District could have a Tax Ratification Election next month, which school leaders said would effectively lower the overall tax rate while pulling in a bigger percentage of its budget from the state.
If approved by the WFISD board of trustees on Tuesday, the school district will have a special election in June asking voters to approve an increase in its maintenance and operating tax rate while reducing the tax for debt service, called Interest and Sinking.
After that, a bond election could come in November.
In the last few years, school districts across the state have held Tax Ratification Elections to generate additional revenue for the district while also lowering taxpayers’ overall tax rate.
“We would drop our tax rate five cents, on the I&S side and increase $.13 on our M&O side,” Wichita Falls School District Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said.
It is known as a tax rate swap & drop and the superintendent believes doing this will be a big benefit to the district because it would result in a bigger contribution from the state.
“Basically the state would pay for 60% of our current debt, which is huge for us because right now we pay 100% of our debt, and the state would pay 60% and we would lower taxes $.5,” Kuhrt said. “We would go from a total tax rate of 1.22 to 1.13.”
Electra ISD voters approved a similar election back in 2017 and Superintendent Scott Hogue said it was a gamechanger for his school district.
“If we had not passed the TRE, I would’ve had to severely cut probably seven more, key positions,” Hogue said. “The state sees that you are putting forth more tax efforts, so they award you more money, In other words, they are rewarding you for taxing at a higher level.”
Hogue said because of the election, the Electra School District was able to create a nursing assistant program, fix some problems and add technological upgrades.
Upgrades and renovations that could soon be done in Wichita Falls, if the district gets the green light from the board of trustees and then voters.
On Tuesday, the WFISD school board will discuss the TRE and could vote on it at that time and the election could be set for June 15 with early voting starting May 29.
Regarding the potential school bond, the Long Range Facility Planning Committee, which consists of community members, will be presenting options to the board on May 20th.
If the board decides to put the bond issue to voters in November, they must have it set it by August.
KFDX newsroom reached out to some members of that planning committee Tuesday who declined to speak on camera at the direction of a consulting firm hired by the school district to help facilitate the bond.
However, Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said the district cannot stop members from giving their opinion if they so choose.