La Joya school board proposes increasing tax rate to generate $5 million

La Joya ISD operations building March 11, 2022, in La Joya. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])
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The La Joya ISD school board on Monday approved a tax rate election for November, joining a growing number of local districts to do so.

If voters pass the measure, the district’s tax rate would fall 20.39 cents instead of 23.56 cents.

The district says that higher tax would generate about $5 million in local taxes and state funds, which it would use for teachers, staff retention, recruitment, safety and “various student needs.”

“I don’t understand how or why any other district would not take advantage of something like this,” Board President Alex Cantu said. “I know that I’ve been hearing around and everybody — this is a once an opportunity, so we as a district, I believe this: we need to take advantage of it. And I think me, personally, it would be very irresponsible for me not to support something like this, especially because you’re still giving the voter — the community — the right to vote on it.”

La Joya ISD marquee on March 11, 2022 in La Joya. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Chief Financial Officer Ben Garza said the district plans to use the firm Moak Casey to do an audit related to the election.

“This is so important to me that my wife right now is having a procedure done at the doctor’s and I need to ask if I can have the afternoon off, but I came here cause this is how important it is to this district. It’s very important to this district,” he said

Trustee Roberto Zamora took issue with Peñitas being left out as a polling site for the election and voted against adopting an election order.

Garza said that was a county matter and that the Hidalgo County Elections Department had deemed the voting site a ”safety hazard.”

“So the city is working with the county on trying to find a better place to have a voting site,” he said.

Hidalgo County Elections Elections Administrator Hilda Salinas described traffic and parking as concerns at the site.

La Joya is one of several districts asking voters to kick in a little more money at the polling place this fall.

McAllen and Edinburg school districts ordered tax rate elections last week.

Edcouch-Elsa and Weslaco, meanwhile, both ordered bond elections this month.

Other districts in the county were slated to discuss ordering tax rate elections Monday evening.