(FORT BEND ISD) – The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees at its Monday night meeting approved a resolution calling for a November tax rate election that they say will provide competitive wages for the district’s teachers.
The tax rate election, known as a Voter Approval Tax Rate Election or VATRE, will take place on Nov. 7. Funds provided by the district’s successful bond election in May, by law, cannot be used to pay teachers or other staff such as bus drivers, librarians, nurses and counselors. A VATRE will generate $35 million.
The board will hold a special public meeting on Friday, Aug. 25, from 4 – 5:30 p.m. at the Administration Building to outline funding priorities that the VATRE would support. FBISD has set priorities for competitive pay improvements such as:
$2,500 teacher raises and a differentiated teacher step scale with raises as high as $7,000 for teachers with 25 years of experience or more
increase bus driver and teacher aide pay by $1.50 an hour
add uniformed security officers at all elementary schools
An approved VATRE would have a $0 impact on property taxes for those with over 65 or disability exemptions unless they have made new improvements to their residence such as an addition or pool. Presently, Fort Bend ISD’s total tax rate is $1.1346, which is between 11 cents and 17 cents less than peer districts like Lamar CISD, Cy-Fair ISD, and Katy ISD. If approved by voters, the new tax rate will be 98.92 cents – 71.92 cents for the general fund that pays for daily operations, and 27 cents that pays back debt. The 98.92 cent rate is expected to remain one of the lowest tax rates in the region and is a historic low for Fort Bend ISD. Aside from the VATRE, a property tax bill impact of $2,677 per year for the district’s average home valued at $370,630 includes savings for property owners that are likely on the way due to a measure signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot. The measure requires, and is expected to receive, voter approval in November. The measure deducts $100,000 off property values and further compresses school district tax rates, resulting in annual tax bill savings of $1,149 a year for the average FBISD homeowner. A successful VATRE in the district would require about $108 of the $1,149 annual savings – or about $9 per month. In the last two years, FBISD has made over $40 million in budget cuts and continues to review non-campus positions before filling them. The cuts have eliminated the district’s previous budget deficit but have not provided enough money to increase teacher salaries.