The Galveston Coalition of Concerned Taxpayers strives to hold public entities accountable for their finances and keeping tax rates at reasonable levels.
Members of the organization recently met with Larry Nichols, superintendent of schools for Galveston Independent School District, to discuss the tax ratification election recently called by the GISD board of trustees. Based on those conversations, we are endorsing voting for the proposition.
Taxpayers are saving money before they walk into poll locations. The district has been able to save $8 million by smartly refinancing bonds, a cost that would have been paid by local property owners. This means a reduction in the district’s interest and sinking tax rate by 3 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Voting for the proposition will raise the school district’s maintenance and operations tax rate 2 cents, allowing for teacher and staff raises. Those 2 cents, or golden pennies, will raise $1.1 million that cannot be touched by the state finance system that takes a portion of GISD’s raised revenues to be redistributed to districts considered property poor.
This election will keep more local money in Galveston, rather than the pocketbooks of the Texas Education Agency.
Keep in mind, raising the maintenance and operations tax rate 2 cents will still result in an overall reduction by 1 cent. The current $1.165 per $100 of property valuation school tax rate is already the lowest in the region. Lowering it even further shows the district is thinking of those who fund local schools.
The state of Texas needs to overhaul the way we finance public education. Districts like GISD are burdened with having to send a portion of our precious local tax funds to the TEA instead of being spent locally.
The only long-term solution is statewide reform of school finance.
However, prudent measures like GISD is attempting in this election do make sense. Our hope is that GISD continues to strive to be fiscally responsible.
The Galveston Coalition for Concerned Tax payers encourages you to cast a vote for this proposition on or before Aug. 26.
Don Mafrige is chairman of the Galveston Coalition of Concerned Taxpayers.