By Ian White
A PROPOSAL to raise a school district’s tax rate by 13 cents gained traction when the district’s trustees voted unanimously this week to put the mesasure on the ballot in November’s election.
Five members of the public spoke in favor of the idea during a public hearing held by the trustees of Texas City independent school district on Tuesday.
As The Post revealed last weekend, the district was forced to hold the meeting to consider how to deal with a $3.9m shortfall in its budget for the academic year just started.
The choice was whether to cut services and staff levels, including teacher numbers, or to raise the rate at which the district levies property taxes by 13 cents. A hybrid mix of the two, with a lesser hike in the tax rate, was also possible.
The trustees voted unanimously to put the tax-rate increase on the ballot after hearing the five members of the public who addressed the hearing all speak in its favor.
After the district’s chief financial officer, Margaret Lee, outlined its plight in view of state financial restrictions leading to falling revenues while ever-more-costly student enrollment is on the rise, mayor Matt Doyle said: “The state system is broke.”
Referring to the district’s development of new schools and facilities, he said that to stop funding the education system “would be a tragic mistake”.
And, with an eye on the longer-term future, he added: “If we don’t support our kids now, we’ll never be able to attract them back.”
Construction-business owner Randy Dietel said a rise in the tax rate “will affect me as a business but I’m willing to do that. I’m very much in favor.”
Popular community activist José Boix said: “We have trust and confidence in our district administrators. The onus is on state legislators to sort out the problem.”
Resident Jack Cross said: “We have a beautiful city but it’s all gone for naught if you don’t have a good school district. We have no choice.”
And Texas City lawyer Mark Ciavaglia said: “These circumstances are not of the district’s making. Raising the tax rate is the right thing to do. To cut staff and resources would be a travesty and a crime to our children.”