As much as they wish they didn’t have to, Troup ISD Board of Trustees has called a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) to ask its voters for a 13 cent tax increase per $100 evaluation. The election is set for Aug. 26 with early voting beginning on Aug. 9.
The state of Texas has eliminated Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) funding for all school districts in Texas. This move by the state will result in a $770,000 loss in funding for Troup ISD. The only way to replace that loss is to increase the Maintenance and Operations tax rate from $1.04 to $1.17 which is an increase of 13 cents.
“This isn’t something we want to do. I’m sorry that we are having to do this,” Superintendent Stuart Bird said. “I don’t see that there is a choice.”
TISD administration will give several opportunities for the community to come and hear, first hand, what this tax increase means for the schoolchildren and classrooms in the district. They will also help voters understand how the increase will affect their tax bill.
Bird said brochures and letters will be ready soon for distribution.
District employees and board members are limited by the Texas Ethics Commission on what they can say and how district funds can and cannot be used to promote the tax increase. ISDs may not use employee time or ISD funds to encourage voters to ratify or not ratify the TRE tax rate. The district may only provide factual, unbiased information to the public about the TRE and information related to the TRE.
Nothing that may take place during the Texas Legislature’s special session would likely help this situation that has been created by previous action of the legislature. The state budget is already approved and they cannot appropriate any more money.
“Should there be any ASATR money come from that special session it would go to those districts that are already at the $1.17 mark,” Bird said. “That wouldn’t help us in any way.”
Bird reminded the board that the low tax rate in TISD has long been viewed as a plus.
“When I came here I remember that the low tax rate was a bragging point for this district,” Bird said. “Now we are being punished for it.”
The board also reluctantly accepted the resignation of long-time trustee Andy Griffin Jr. Known to many as Coach, Griffin leaves the board after nine years of service. He and his wife Linda will be moving out of the district.
In Griffin’s letter of resignation he recommended that Robbie Switzer be appointed to his seat to complete his term. Switzer has several years of TISD board experience. He addressed the board, Bird, administrators and teachers, reminding them that they are the foundation of what makes TISD a great district.
“Troup will always remain a very special place to me,” Griffin said. “I love each of you. I love Troup. I leave with fond memories.”