The Harlingen community cast their ballots in favor of a proposed adjustment to the tax rates that fund their schools by approving to pass the Tax Ratification for the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District on September 12th.
The newly approved tax rate will generate approximately $5.8 million in state funds and another $4.2 million in local funds, bringing the annual total to $10 million. These additional funds will allow the district to address facility needs through replacements and upgrades without incurring debt.
“Our community has come together to support our students and their futures by approving the Tax Ratification,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “We thank our entire community for these efforts as it takes our collaborative work to provide world-class schools for our students and our outstanding Board of Trustees for their vision to call for a TRE. This is a huge step forward for public education in Harlingen as present and future students will have a better opportunity for global achievement as a result of today.”
The tax rate adjustment will increase the Maintenance & Operations rate (M&O) and decrease the Interest and Sinking rate (I&S). The new M&O tax rate will be $1.17, and the new I&S rate will be $.148 for a total tax rate of $1.318. The M&O funds the maintenance and operations of schools, and the I&S pays for any bond debt that may have been issued to fund the construction of schools and facilities.
In May, HCISD saved over $8 million by refinancing a portion of their long-term school bonds, which resulted in an estimated decrease of $.3 in the I&S fund. In return, the district will redirect these savings to the M&O through the approved tax ratification.
The TRE impact to homeowners is determined by three factors: state matching funds, recent bond savings, and a pending increase to the homestead exemption amendment.
In the general election, voters will have a chance to further reduce their property taxes when a constitutional amendment is up for election. If passed, this amendment will increase the homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000, thus reducing the taxable property value to the homeowner.
The increase will be $.10 for every $100 in taxable property value. For a homeowner whose house is valued at $93,260, the average home value in Harlingen, this equates to an increase of $6.51/month or $77.08/year. If the homestead exemption is passed, the average homeowner will see a savings of $53.72/year.
“This is a great day for education as our community has come together to support our students and approve the Tax Ratification,” said Board of Trustee President Dr. Nolan Perez. “Our community has spoken and not only supports the future of our students but the mission to provide them with world-class schools and facilities. We thank our community for their efforts as it took the work of many to get to reach this decision. We look forward to the future as it holds amazing things for our students, and we will continue to do it alongside the help of our community.”
Twenty-two school districts in Region One have approved a TRE and have been accessing these additional state funds as early as 2006.
To read Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos’ message to the community click here.