Waco ISD Board of Trustees unanimously votes to reduce homeowners’ taxes
In a unanimous vote of the Waco ISD Board of Trustees Thursday evening, trustees approved savings of more than $650 for the average taxpayer.
School board members reduced the 2023-2024 tax rate by 21 cents for a total tax rate of $1.029 per $100 valuation as compared to last year’s total rate of $1.242. Waco ISD has cut the total tax rate for citizens by 38 cents per $100 valuation over the last five years.
“It is always good to be able to decrease a tax rate and be building new schools,” Waco ISD Board of Trustees President Stephanie Korteweg said.
Waco ISD calculates a tax rate based on current year state-certified property values. Property values are determined by the McLennan Central Appraisal District. Waco ISD’s tax base increased to $9.1 billion this year which is a 12.18 percent increase.
According to the Texas Education Agency, the calculation of state funding for school districts is tied to tax effort. Therefore, tax rates provide an essential component in the state’s school finance formulas.
The board of trustees is required to approve the reduction in Waco ISD’s tax rate because of the proposed increase in the homestead exemption, resulting in a 17.2 percent decrease in school property tax. Because state lawmakers passed a bill to reduce property taxes, the formula calculating revenue for school districts has also changed. State revenue will increase for school districts that experience a decrease in local revenues as a result of the proposed increased homestead exemption.
Waco ISD Chief Financial Officer Sheryl Davis said property values are up 12.18 percent for the district, but local revenues are actually coming down.
“This year, we are getting about $2 million (from the state) to help offset the increase in the homestead exemption. The state increased the district’s funding by $200,000 to approximately 2.3 million,” Davis said. “This doesn’t end up having an impact on our general fund budget. The general fund is more impacted by attendance and enrollment.”
The property value growth has been greater in commercial property in Waco ISD’s boundaries. Families’ incomes have not increased at the same rate, as demonstrated by more than 90 percent of students qualifying as economically disadvantaged.
Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon agrees that property values are increasing, but that doesn’t represent what is happening with families.
“When local residents pay their property taxes, they’re trusting us to be good stewards of their tax dollars and tonight’s action by our board demonstrates that it's a responsibility we take seriously,” Kincannon said. “We value the partnership we share with our families and their involvement in their students’ education. Helping them bring home more money in their paychecks is just one way that we can help our families in return.”