At Monday night's meeting, the Eanes ISD Board of Trustees unanimously voted to add to the November 7, 2017 election ballot a provision that would authorize Eanes ISD to move two pennies from the district's debt budget (interest and sinking) to the operating (maintenance and operations) budget. Approval by voters would drop the I&S tax rate by 3.25 cents and increase an estimated $3 million of local tax revenue that stays in the community.
"This approach is intended to help us meet our shared commitments to the children of Eanes ISD and the entire community," said Board President Dr. Colleen Jones. "Each year we send more money back to the state than we keep because of recapture. The Penny Swap provision increases the amount of local dollars we are able to keep in the district for operations which allows us to fund and preserve the quality education we've built for our students and families."
The Penny Swap & Drop provision adds more funds to the district's operating budget by taking two cents from the district's interest and sinking tax rate, changing the M&O rate from $1.04 to $1.06 per $100 valuation and reducing the I&S rate from $0.1725 to $0.14 per $100 valuation. The district's overall current tax rate of $1.2125 would then drop to $1.20 per $100 valuation. If voters do not approve the penny swap proposal the overall tax rate will remain at the current higher rate of $1.2125 per $100 valuation.
The district has sent nearly $1 billion of local tax receipts back to the state through the current Texas school funding formula requiring property-wealthy districts like Eanes ISD to pay back (called recapture) any amount of property taxes collected over and above an equalized wealth level established by the legislature. In the 2016/17 fiscal year, Eanes ISD residents lost more dollars to recapture ($83.3 million) than they kept ($57.7 million) to fund the district's operating budget.
Trustees say it's now up to the community to decide if Eanes ISD's overall tax rate will drop. "We've put forth what we consider to be a fiscally responsible approach to accessing and maximizing local funding," said Jones. "Our stewardship in paying down bond debt quickly has presented an opportunity to increase the dollars we keep locally; dollars that can be used to preserve programs, attract and retain staff, and maintain class sizes."
Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard commended trustees for the bold actions they have taken since last spring advocating on behalf of Eanes ISD students, parents and community members. "The Board's action to place the Penny Swap & Drop measure on the November ballot speaks to their efforts to maximize our resources," said Leonard.
Residents can learn more about the Penny Swap & Drop through the district's website that will be regularly updated as more information and resources are available. The district will also host information sessions over the coming weeks. More information will be published online this week.