Major savings are now a reality in Texas communities, where the school districts are rolling back their tax rates. It all dates back to spring of last year, and in Bryan, those new tax totals look like record breakers.
A 2006 special session of the Texas legislature marked major changes for school funding. Among them was a call for districts with a maximum maintenance and operations rate of $1.50 to drop it to $1.00.
Bryan ISD was at the maximum, and will vote after public hearings on a proposed $1.00 rate, plus a four cent enrichment. Add in the debt rate, and the total tax rate would stand at $1.29, a 34-cent reduction, possibly the largest in district history.
Where is the money made up?
"Based on the formula, the percentage of funds that the state sends the district is increasing by the amount that our property taxes have declined," said Amy Drozd, the chief financial officer for BISD.
"I think it's good news for our taxpayers, certainly," she added. "There is some concern beyond next year on funding."
With rising costs in the future, finding the funding to keep a growing district going would be essential. In order to raise the maintenance and operations tax rate, the district would have to take it to the voters.
Longtime school board trustee David Stasny says that's not necessarily a first option.
"I would certainly want to make sure that we turned everything upside-down looking for more savings before we could even consider trying to go beyond where we are," he said.
But as to whether the lesser reliance on property taxes is the right way to go, Stasny said, "I think it's been a step in the right direction, and probably needs some more steps in that direction."
On Saturday, the Bryan board of trustees will hold a retreat. Among the items up for discussion is a possible future bond issue, one that could help make up for rising costs in the future.