District will not pay into wealth equalization fund

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, July 3, 2013

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Flat property values and continued student growth can put a financial strain on a school district.

In Northwest ISD, that combination means that next year, for the first time in eight years, no local property tax money will be sent to Austin as part of the state’s “Robin Hood” recapture program.

The Northwest ISD board of trustees last Tuesday approved a general-fund budget of $152,107,236 for the 2013-2014 school year. Although revenues increased by just $1,315,926 compared to this year – despite a projected enrollment swell of 1,365 students – the growth is covered by the fact that the district gets to keep all of its local property tax revenue.

Adjusted state funding formulas will raise the recapture limit on the base amount of tax next year, meaning NISD will not be required to pay the Chapter 41 wealth equalization recapture during the coming budget year.

Northwest ISD has sent money to the state for the past eight years – a total of $279 million.

“So this is quite a bit of difference,” said Jon Graswich, the district’s chief financial officer. “(This year) that’s instating $10,981,987 that nets out into the revenue number … If you look at the expenditure side what we see is that the current expenditures will increase by $12.3 million, which does reflect the enrollment increase.”

Expenditures also include a 2-percent increase from the midpoint of each pay grade as well as increases in medical plan premiums for district employees as outlined by the compensation plan approved in May. This brings the total payroll costs to $123,967,901 and comprises the bulk of budgeted expenditures.

Others include:

  • capital outlay – $62,206,932,
  • debt service – $39,859,506,
  • supplies and materials – $35,903,398,
  • contracted service – $28,912,739 and
  • other operating costs – $5,867,623,

District officials will propose a $1.4525 tax rate to fund the budget at the board’s meeting Aug. 12. The 7-cent increase from this year’s interest-and-sinking rate of 33.5 cents reflects the bond election approved last November, which will build a new high school and several other facilities.

According to Graswich, taxes on the average home will increase by $164.79 because of the authorized bond payment and because the average taxable value of a home has increased from $168,900 to $176,083.

Local real and personal property taxes continue to be the district’s main source of revenue.

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