Sweetwater Independent School District Superintendent Terry Pittman announced Saturday evening, Aug. 25, 2012, that the Tax Ratification Election (TRE) passed with a vote of 218 for and 9 against. Mr. Pittman has said that this election represented a veryÂ opportune time for the school district.
"With property values in the county having increasedÂ tremendously as of late, the passing of this TRE election has allowed SISD to make a beneficial shift to the funding structure and still lower the overall tax rate of the taxpayers."
The process was explained during the May 2012 SISD Board of Trustees meeting by SISD Business Manager Nathan Ehlert. This opportunity will serve a two-fold purpose of avoiding additional budget cuts for the next year while giving taxpayers a lower tax rate.
Already, the district is expecting to see a state budget cut of $330,000 for the 2012-13 school year.
The school's total tax rate is split in two categories: M&O (Maintenance and Operations)--which covers daily operations within the district, and I&S (Interest & Sinking)--collections for voter-approved debt. Currently, the rates stand at $1.06 and $.165 (both per $100 value), respectively.
Due to new electrical transmission lines and mineral values, the district's taxable base will greatly increase. As a result, the I&S tax rate can be reduced.
The proposed TRE would decrease the I&S rate to $.12, while raising the M&O rate to $1.095.
In turn, this change would lower the total tax rate of SISD tax payers from the current rate of $1.225 to $1.215 and give the school district an additional $393,000 of funding. $229,000 of that amount would come from local taxes, while the other $164,000 would come in the form of state funding.
SISD acknowledged that even as economic hardships continue, they were pleased to offer some relief to taxpayers while avoiding additional budget cuts. The district currently has one of the lowest total school tax rates in the county.
Also during the May meeting, approval was given to set the rates of $1.095 for M&O and $.12 for the I&S. They also approved a noon-time public hearing to be held on Thursday, June 7 regarding the Tax Ratification Election.
While no public input was given at the June meeting, approval was given to formally adopt the total tax rate for 2012-2013 of $1.215.
Leading up to the election, school district administrators had been presenting information on the TRE to the local civic groups at their respective club meetings. In the Sunday, August 12 edition of the Sweetwater Reporter, a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list on the Tax Ratification Election was published as well to inform voters.