After holding a public hearing for comments from community members, Bullard Independent School District has adopted its new tax rate and budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018.
“It’s always a relief to complete a process of this magnitude in presenting and adopting our yearly tax rate and budget because it governs everything that we do and it directs our district in providing resources to children. It was a challenging year last year because the legislative session was going on so there were a lot of unknowns, such as mandates and changes, on the table that you have to pay for and you don’t know how much they’ll end up costing. Now, with the budget passed, we can go into managing the budget; we want to make sure everybody understands that a budget is a plan and that we’re always monitoring our revenues and expenditures and want to stay fiscally responsible.”
The newly adopted tax rate will remain the same as last year’s rate, staying at $1.67 per every $100 of taxable value of homes within the district.
Of the $1.67 tax rate, the district will use $1.17 in its Maintenance and Operations (M&O) fund, while the remaining .50 will go towards the district’s Interest and Sinking (I&S) fund.
During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, all property appraised within the boundaries of Bullard ISD was valued at $1,387,623,408 and is projected to be valued at $1,483,586,497 during this fiscal year.
The average market value of residences within Bullard ISD is projected to be $206,216, up from the $197,272 value on residences last fiscal year, while the average taxable value of those residences is estimated to be $181,061, an increase from the Fiscal Year 2016 values of $173,052.
On houses valued at the average of $206,216, taxpayers will pay a total of $3,023.72 in taxes this year, and increase of $133.75 from last year.
Schneider said with funding being cut at the state level for public school education, school districts across the state of Texas are relying on property taxes for a majority of their funding each year.
“School districts in Texas are funded by property taxes,” said Schneider. “The state does take advantage of the current way property taxes fund schools, such as the more money collected from property taxes, the more the state cuts from its own money going towards funding schools.
According to Schneider, the state of Texas is using the money cut from public school education and theoretically “robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul” by giving that money to charter schools.
In a 10-year frame from 2010 to projected 2019, according to information provided to Bullard Banner News by Schneider, traditional public schools, which educate nearly 95 percent of students in the state, will have increased more than 500,000 students while receiving more than $1 billion less in funding, while charter schools have grown only 200,000 students and have gained between $2-3 billion dollars from the state.
“In the course of trying to promote charter schools and school choice, the negative is the way the state has gone about it,” said Schneider. “If you look over the past 10 years, enrollment growth has gone upwards of 500,000 students in traditional public schools, but they’ve received $1 billion less to fund their education. On the other side, charter schools over the same period grew approximately by 220,000 and received $2 billon more from the state after funding was cut from public schools. In the promotion of school choice, the state is willing to risk the survival of the traditional public school. I wouldn’t say they’re overfunding, but they’re not comparatively funding both.”
Schneider also said with Bullard being an attractive city for potential businesses, as well as the appeal of Bullard ISD to families around the East Texas region, taxpayers could feel relief in their property taxes when more businesses begin moving into the city.
“Property tax relief could come as our community continues to grow with more commercial businesses and industry; it can help us reduce the rate,” said Schneider. “Businesses are so crucial to the life of a community because they oftentimes bring in money from outside of the community to build their worth and we benefit from that. One benefit of being in Bullard ISD is because people are moving here and families are being attracted to move to Bullard because of the school district, which helps our property values increase. We’re basically trying to make up the difference we’re losing each year when the state cuts its funding.”
The adopted budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year for Bullard ISD includes revenues of $21,774,244, with funds of $11,892,900 coming from local sources, as well as $9,756,344 from the state of Texas, and $125,000 from the federal level.
Additionally, the expenditures for the 2017-2018 fiscal year will cost the district $21,774,244, allowing the district to have a balanced budget. According to Gloria West, Bullard ISD Business Manager, the top three expenditure items in the budget include $12,439,712 in instructional costs, $2,777,769 for plant maintenance, and $1,351,705 for school leadership.
“It’s important for us to maintain a balanced budget in order for us to maintain our fund balance,” said Gloria West, Bullard ISD Business Manager. “The balanced budget gives us a sense of security; in case the state of Texas changes its funding or if Bullard ISD enrollment goes down, we have money for purchases that we can pay for immediately, without having to pay interest.”
Trustees adopted the new Fiscal Year 2017-2018 tax rate and budget after receiving no input during the public hearing in a special called meeting of the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees, held Thursday, Aug. 31.