Huffman ISD proposes 10-cent tax hike

HUFFMAN — Last year Huffman ISD voters approved a $20.5 Million bond package. Now, it’s time to pay the bill.

The school district will hold public meeting on Aug. 25 in the Copeland cafeteria at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the upcoming school year budget, which will, in turn, determine the tax rate.

The school district is proposing a $1.44 per $100 valuation tax rate. This represents a 10-cent increase over the 2007-2008 rate.

The tax rate is broken down into two sections: maintenance and operations (M&O) and interest and sinking (I&S). The M&O part of the tax rate is expected to be $1.04, the same as last year. This part of the tax rate is used by the district for its daily operations budget.

The increase in the tax rate comes in the I&S. Huffman ISD is proposing a $.44 per $100 valuation rate for debt service. This is up from $.38 last year.

Under state law, the district could have raised the rate as high as $1.61343 without calling for a special election.

District Superintendent Dr. Douglas Killian said that this rate following a schedule that the district gave to voters before the May 2007 election. It was estimated that the tax could have been as high as $.4451.

Killian said that the debt schedule fluctuates and that with each passing year the debt service would go down. Also taxpayers will see some relief, he added, in three to five years when the district begins to retire old debt.

The tax rate is based on projected data from the Harris County Appraisal District. Killian said that they do not have the final figures from the appraisal district so they have to build a budget based on what is expected. Even if the district were to wait until September to create the budget, he noted, they still might not have accurate figures from Harris County. “There is quite a bit of lag time (in getting the figures). This is a function of the size of the district.

Hurting taxpayers is a projection that taxable value of property. Last year the average taxable value of a residence was $124,390. This year it is expected to drop to $119,889. Since the tax rate is directly tied to the value of property and lower property values mean less money coming in, the tax rate has to increase to compensate. Using these projected values, the average taxpayer will see their annual bill go up $57.78 from $1,716.58 to $1,774.36.

Killian added that the downturn in property values is not limited the Huffman ISD and was more a function of the housing market. He also said that he felt that this was not the start of a trend, but rather a temporary downturn in the market.

The 2007 Bond package included $10 million for athletic facilities ungrades including a new Falcon Stadium near the high school as well as a new administration building.