KISD Board moves toward election, budget hearings at Aug. 25 meeting

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 8/28/20

The Katy ISD Board of Trustees met for their regular monthly meeting Monday at 6 p.m. and moved closer to adopting a property tax rate and an annual budget. The board also heard from the KISD General …

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KISD Board moves toward election, budget hearings at Aug. 25 meeting

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The Katy ISD Board of Trustees met for their regular monthly meeting Monday at 6 p.m. and moved closer to adopting a property tax rate and an annual budget. The board also heard from the KISD General Counsel Justin Graham regarding the process to move forward with board elections Nov. 3.

“This will be the … fourth time in the last 15 years that we’ve reduced the tax rate,” said KISD Chief Financial Officer Chris Smith. “We did it back in the 2005-06 and the 2006-07 school years – then we did it again, fast forwarding it back to the 2015-16 school year. We were able to drop it a penny – of course last year we dropped it by a couple of pennies.”

Money crunching

Regarding financial matters, the board was presented multiple options by district staff for setting a tax rate. District staff and the board are moving toward final approval of an apparent decrease from last year’s property tax rate.

In the 2019-20 tax year for the district, the rate was set at $1.4431 per $100 valuation. For the 2020-21 tax year for the district, the district’s administration proposed a rate of $1.3888 per $100 valuation for property taxes. This amounts to a reduction of $0.0543 per $100 valuation – or about $54.30 less for each $100,000 of property value.

Smith said the tax rate could be lowered due to a tax base growth of about 8.5% while enrollment had only increased about 5.1%. The proposed tax rate is broken down into a maintenance and operations rate of $0.9988 per $100 valuation while the debt service rate makes up $0.3900 per $100 valuation, Smith said.

With the decrease in the tax rate, the district was still able to provide a 1% increase in pay to staff and faculty, Smith said.

The tax rate and 2020-21 budget are expected to be up for approval at the Board of Trustee’s next meeting in September, a district spokesperson said.

The trustees also reviewed the final budget for the 2019-20 budget which is in the process of being closed out.

Staffing, including salary and benefits, accounted for 88% of the district’s general fund budget, while non-payroll expenses made up the remaining 12% according to a presentation by district staff. Local revenue accounted for 54% of the general fund’s income, with 45% coming from the state and 1% coming from the federal government.

Costly elections

November 3 will see Katy ISD on ballots in Fort Bend, Harris and Waller counties for voters that live within district boundaries, said KISD General Counsel Justin Graham. The election – originally scheduled for May – was postponed by Tex. Governor Greg Abbott due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The delay in the election will be costly for the district, Graham said. Due to additional requirements when going on countywide ballots and other expenses, the election is expected to cost about $450,000 compared to an average cost of around $100,000, he said.

KISD trustee Positions 3, 4 and 5 are up for grabs in November, though Board of Trustees Secretary Ashley Vann who currently holds the Position 3 seat is running unopposed after opponent R.C. Simmons withdrew from the race earlier this year.

In Position 4, incumbent Courtney Doyle and candidate Allen Wortham, Jr. have also withdrawn from the race. Position 4 candidates currently include Leah Wilson and Michael Dillard.

Incumbent Trustee Bill Lacy will face Greg Schulte for the Position 5 seat in November. Brandy Snyder withdrew from the election earlier this year.

The Katy Area Chamber of Commerce will be streaming a candidate forum to provide candidates with an opportunity to answer questions about their goals and campaign platforms in October. “Katy Times” will keep readers apprised of the specific date, time and streaming platform as more information becomes available.

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