Lindale ISD taxes going down

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 12:30pm

Public schools in Texas have taken it on the chin lately.
In 2011, the legislature took big swipes at the school budget leaving districts all over the state needing money.
And with the recession still impacting property prices, a lot of school boards had to suck it up and ask for a tax hike.
And there is a tax ratification vote coming up here in Lindale. But unlike a lot of districts, they aren’t going up. They are going down.
Stan Surratt is the superintendent of Lindale ISD. And he says they are actually raising one part of the budget, but lowering another. The net result…a two cent drop in the tax rate.
"We have 2 tax rates,” said Surratt. “We have the maintenance and operation tax rate which takes care of the day to day operations…pays the teachers, pays for the buses to run, electricity and such. Then we have the I&S interest and sinking tax rate. Well because of some of the wonderful things happening in the last year, low interest rates, refinancing bonds, student growth, property value growth in this district, we have an opportunity to lower that I&S tax rate by 4 cents. And the school board has called an election to ask the voters to approve a 2 cent increase on the M&O side. We're really talking about $225,000 a year that will be dedicated to technology in the student's hands. The other part of that, is that we're going to add extra security type people at the elementary school campuses."

He says that he is lucky in that population growth and property values there are both going up.
But does he worry that he might be leaving money on the table, by cutting now rather than leaving the rate steady?
"I can't speak exactly for the school board,” Surratt said, “but I think it was the intent of the board that we have this opportunity to cut property taxes for property owners while adding extra revenue to the M&O budget. So it was a way to give back to the community a little bit so they get a little tax cut."

Surratt says since Sandy Hook, everyone is worried about school security, so the expenditures there met with widespread agreement.

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