The Lubbock Independent School District is calling for a Tax Ratification Election and asking voters to help them create needed revenue with a simple shift of two pennies. According to LISD, they want individuals to vote on the District’s ability to move two cents from the Debt Service tax rate to the Maintenance and Operations tax rate. According to the LISD Tax Ratification Election (TRE) Fact Sheet, shifting those two pennies will not affect the overall tax rate. In fact, LISD assures the tax rate will remain the same; unchanged as it has been for the past decade.
According to the LISD press release, the Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees requested a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) at their board meeting on June 16.
As stated in the press release, “The election will ask voters to approve keeping the district’s total tax rate at the same $1.235 per $100 valuation while allowing the district to access more than $5.5 million in state/local funds by shifting two cents of the tax rate from debt service to maintenance and operations. The shift will allow the district an annual increase in state funding to facilitate a pay-as-you-go model for instructional technology and priority capital projects.”
So, how does the shift of two cents grant access to that degree of state and local funding? According to the LISD TRE Fact Sheet, “by increasing the Maintenance & Operations tax rate above $1.04, Lubbock ISD is able to access what is referred to as the Golden Pennies. The Golden Pennies have a greater weight in state funding formulas than any other part of the tax rate, bringing more state revenue to the district.” Additionally, the fact sheet went on to say five of the eight school districts in Lubbock County currently receive this additional revenue from golden pennies.
The LISD press release went on to say, “Since 2006-07, Lubbock ISD has had the same tax rate of $1.235, which is comprised of maintenance and operations tax rate of $1.04 and a debt service tax rate of $0.195. The tax rates cannot be adjusted without voter approval. State funding mechanisms reward local tax effort with additional state revenue for each of the two pennies above $1.04. While the tax rate will not change, the district will be able to service current debt on the existing payout schedule and add additional revenue to the maintenance and operations budget.”
In the press release, Superintendent Berhl Robertson Jr. stated, “This shift of two pennies from one side of the tax rate to the other is good business. It will allow us to pay cash for priority capital projects and instructional technology, like Chromebooks and iPads, rather than financing those things over time. We have managed our bond projects well. We are at a point where we can pay off our debt on schedule and leverage state funds that we are leaving on the table in Austin.”
To put in your two cents on the issue of the golden pennies, cast your vote. The LISD Tax Ratification Election Day is August 30th. Early voting begins August 18th and ends August 26th. For more information, visit tinyurl.com/TREfacts or call 806.219.0010.
By Toshia Humphries