Brownsville ISD approves tax rate, TRE

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A view of a Brownsville ISD school bus Wednesday, May 25, 2022, after school dismissal. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

The Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees adopted a 2023-2024 tax rate of $1.030964 per $100 valuation, nearly 18 cents lower than the rate of $1.20869 for 2022-2023.

At a special called meeting Monday, the board also ordered a Tax Ratification Election for Nov. 7 to gain voter approval to restructure the tax rate to pay for employee raises of 2%.

The board earlier settled on the TRE as the only option available to grant raises. Educators across the state had hoped the Legislature would grant more generous raises, but that hope fizzled when Gov. Greg Abbott tied pay raise proposals to school voucher-like programs that would allow parents to use taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition.

The pay raise failure came despite the Legislature entering the regular session with a record $32.7 billion surplus.

BISD operates on a July 1-June 30 budget year and adopts its budget each year based on projected property tax revenues and contingent on passing the effective tax rate when the figures become official.

The tax rate approved Monday was included contingently in the $466.8 million operating budget for 2023-2024 that trustees adopted in late June.

The board also ordered a Tax Ratification Election for Nov. 7. If voters approve, the TRE would allow BISD to move the tax levy for maintenance and operations to employee compensation, allowing the district to fund raises of 2% from midpoint for all employees across all pay grades.

Chief Financial Officer Alejandro Cespedes said the new tax rate would result in a savings of $674 in BISD property taxes for the owner of an “average” home valued at $212,000.

The calculation figures in a homestead exemption of $100,000 for 2023-2024 approved by the Legislature but pending statewide voter approval in the Nov. 7 election, compared to a $40,000 homestead exemption in 2022-2023 when an average home was valued at $170,000.

With the homestead exemption, BISD property taxes on an average home worth $170,000 were $1,571 in 2022-2023 and would fall to $723 on an average $212,000 home in 2023-2024, a reduction of $848, Cespedes said.

The board also approved a resolution to allow the district to pay off three years early its remaining bonded debt of $62.4 million.