The 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 Saturday, Aug. 26, and early voting will begin Wednesday, Aug. 9, and will conclude Tuesday, Aug. 22.
Voting times will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Troup library, 102 S. George, in Troup. Early voting also will be from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, at Troup Elementary School, 201 E. Bryant Street in Troup; and from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at Troup High School, 927 Arp Drive in Troup.
“Our board decided to call the election to ask our voters to replace the revenue the state has taken away. Last year we received 1.3 million dollars the state is no longer going to fund. Through cuts in the budgets and formula mechanisms we have managed to reduce our loss to $770,000,” said Troup Independent School District Superintendent Stuart Bird.
TISD will host a presentation of the facts of the funding of the election at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, at the TISD Administration building at 201 N. Caroline Street in Troup. Citizens will have the opportunity to ask questions.
Bird said the district can recover about $655,000 of those funds and have a balanced budget if the voters pass the rate increase.
“It is important the voters know we are not asking for additional money to spend. We are simply asking to replace lost funding from the state so we may continue to have the quality of teachers and programs we already have in place,” Stuart said. “Without those funds, we will be forced at some point in the future to begin looking at eliminating people and programs within the district.”
According to the district, the tax increase will be about $97.50 for a home with a taxable value of $100,000 (minus $25,000 for Homestead for a total value of $75,000). The difference per month is about $8.13. Tax bills for homeowners 65 years or older and for disabled homesteads will not change unless the homeowner makes improvements to the homesteads.
Bird also said the district has long been a source of pride in the community for providing some of the finest programs and highest test scores in the East Texas area. During the past several years, unfortunately, the state has spent less on schools while shifting the tax burden to local tax payers in cities, counties and school districts.
“Our governor and [lieutenant] governor seem to be on a mission to starve public schools in Texas of needed funds while the [lieutenant] governor is trying to take your tax dollars way from already under funded schools in the form of vouchers to send to private schools with no accountability,” said Bird.
During the past Legislative session, the House of Representatives passed HB 21 in an effort to overhaul a broken school funding system that was a step in the right direction. [Lieutenant Governor] Dan Patrick attached a voucher amendment to it at the last minute causing the bill to die.
“Now they [legislators] are back in special session trying to rob Peter to pay Paul because the budget has already been approved and they can’t appropriate any more money,” Bird said and added, “A number of school districts in the state have already passed TREs in recent years and are faced with closing their doors because the state continues to starve districts of much needed funds.”
Funding for public schools in Texas comes from local property taxes, state funds and federal funds. Through a set of complex formulas and laws, the amount of funds a school district receives in state funding is based in part on each cent of tax effort by the local school district. For the TISD, each penny of taxation provides $32,867 in local funding.
If voters were to not vote for the tax increase, the district will not have access to more than $650,000 in additional funds this year and every year thereafter.
During the public meeting, district employees and board members are limited by the Texas Ethics Commission on what they are able to 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.
Applications for ballots by mail should be mailed to Smith County Elections Administrator, 3-2 E. Ferguson Street, Tyler, TX 75702, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for ballots by mail must be mailed no later than close of business Friday, Aug. 18.