Houston Forward Times

16 October 2013 Written by  Jeffrey L. Boney

HISD School Board Votes to Raise Taxes: All Three Black Trustees Lead the Charge

HISD TrusteesTaxpayers residing in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) service area will be looking at an increase on their tax bill, thanks to the HISD school board. 

The HISD school board voted 4-3 on this past Thursday to raise the tax rate by 3 cents to the new tax rate of $1.1867 per $100 of taxable value.  The original proposal called for a 4-cent tax increase, but the board agreed to a different proposal, introduced by trustee Harvin Moore, to raise the rate by 3 cents and to take $4.9 million from savings from prior years to balance the budget. 

The 4-cent tax increase proposal would have given HISD several million dollars more than the amount they needed to actually balance the budget.  The tax increase was sold as a necessity in order to balance the current budget, which includes employee raises and contributions to the Apollo reform program. 

Joining Trustee Moore in voting for the tax increase, were all three African-American elected trustees: Paula Harris, Larry Marshall and Rhonda Skillern-Jones. HISD Board President Anna Eastman, along with Trustees Mike Lunceford and Juliet Stipeche, voted against the increase.  Eastman, Lunceford and Stipeche publicly expressed their opposition to the budget back in June. 

Trustee Manuel Rodriguez was absent, but stated that he would have voted for the increase. Trustee Greg Meyers was also absent from the vote, stating that he had an unexpected work conflict. Meyers voted for the budget in June but said he would have voted against raising taxes. 

This tax increase, however, represents the first such rate increase by HISD since 2001.  The new property tax rate is roughly $0.24 cents less than the average Harris County school district, which bolsters HISD’s position that they have the lowest rate of any district in Harris County. 

HISD is among just eight county school districts that grant homeowners an additional 20 percent homestead exemption.

 Harris County school districts that had higher tax rates than HISD’s new proposed tax increase in 2012 include: Aldine, Alief, Channelview, Clear Creek, Crosby, Cypress-Fairbanks, Dayton, Deer Park, Galena Park, Goose Creek, Huffman, Humble, Katy, Klein, La Porte, New Caney, Pasadena, Pearland, Sheldon, Spring, Spring Branch, Stafford, and Tomball.

HISD receives more revenue from property taxes than the City Of Houston and Harris County combined, which concerns many residents who feel that the district should be providing more quality and equitable deliverables for all schools that fall in their service area.