Dallas ISD seeks another property tax hike

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Property tax

Administrators at Dallas ISD are again seeking to ask voters for a 13 cent per $100 valuation property tax increase for the third time in three years.

But they can’t get trustees to agree to the ballot measure. According to a story in the Dallas Morning News, the money is already spent.

“While a small percentage of new revenue would be used to address racial equity efforts and to expand the district’s early childhood learning program, Hinojosa and the district’s chief financial officer Larry Throm presented a four-year forecast where the bulk of the money would go to two places: salary increases for teachers and staff and the district’s savings account — called the unassigned fund balance,” the story says.

The increase would mean $240 a year extra on a home with the district average value of $184,550. Valuations are projected by Zillow to increase 3.4 percent in Dallas over the next year.  

The board has in the past two years failed to come to a consensus on whether to approach voters in asking for the outlay, which would come on top of an 11 percent increase in property taxes in Dallas County for 2017.

Dallas ISD leaders need six of the nine board members to agree to put it to a vote. A vote on the measure would come in August, and if they can get the votes, the item would appear on the November ballot.

Dallas voters have not refused a school district measure for over 15 years. Most recently, $1.6 billion was approved in 2015 for buildings and technology.

Municipalities — including school districts — have the advantage in pushing ballot measures. Separate community campaigns to promote them are funded by entities that will benefit from their passage, including teacher unions and any private companies (such as construction companies, law firms and engineering groups) that might get resulting professional work. So, getting the tax increase to the ballot is an important step.

Bill Betzen taught for 11 years at a middle school in the Dallas ISD, and supports the tax increase. But first, he needs some information. He claims that the district is putting more money into the wealthy schools at the expense of the less wealthy.

“There is good reason to believe that Dallas ISD is not spreading resources equitably, and while I want an increase to pass, I am going to hold out until we have some transparency,” Betzen said.  He filed a public information request last week, seeking data that will allow him to compile a spreadsheet that details spending. He is focused on ISD expenditures broken down per student and by school.

The data, he said, would help taxpayers make an informed decision on whether to back the tax increase. Currently, the figures are kept in various open data portals that are undecipherable to most people.

Gathering them all in one spot for an easy-to-read spreadsheet would allow voters to ensure money is being spent wisely.

“If you don’t make the data available to the public in a format it can work with and research themselves, then you are keeping secrets,” he said.

Dallas ISD’s tax rate is $1.28 per $100 valuation, compared to Houston ISD’s $1.20 and Austin ISD’s $1.19.

The district’s enrollment of around 160,000 has remained static for the past seven years, although a demographer’s projection last year estimated student losses at 5,000 over the next ten years to charter schools, affordability issues and housing availability.

Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected].

42 COMMENTS

  1. This is on top of the reality that they increase the value of every property every year.
    According to the tax man, I live in a palatial mansion, with marble cherubs guarding my landscape maze.

  2. tell them no..if they can spend millions changing names and tearing down statues that have stood for decades they absolutely do not need more money to waste…not to mention all the waste and criminal actions of Dallas politics…

  3. They’re having to do this to offset the ever decreasing share/percentage of state funding. This is the result of electing people like Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick….

  4. The ignorance in these comments is astounding. While DISD has certainly room for criticism, the bulk of the comments seem to be about issues with the City of Dallas or Dallas County. Dallas ISD is not part of the city or county. It is a separate taxing entity. That’s what the “I” Dallas ISD stands for: independent. Texas school districts are not governed by the city or county in which they operate but rather by a board or locally elected trustees known as a School Board. If you want to criticize do so, but at least bother to be a little bit informed….

    • OK. Millions in bribes, kickbacks paid to top Dallas County Schools official …
      https://www.dallasnews.com › News › Education

      Dec 28, 2017 – Federal prosecutors have filed charges as part of an investigation into huge financial losses at Dallas County Schools, KXAS-TV (NBC5) reported Thursday. The probe is part of a string of issues that have dogged the agency that voters elected to shut down in November elections. Prosecutors say a school …

    • Sara Brewer the organization Dallas County Schools is also not part of the Dallas ISD. It is a separate government entity that provides school bus service to several school districts.

  5. How about if DISD were to engage in some paring of the administrative ranks of the school district in order to balance their budget. Way more administrators than necessary to teach.

    • Lots of administrative bloat. Not sure if they still do it, but years ago DISD paid for several principals to fly to and from Austin every week, and paid all expenses and tuition so they could get degrees to be Superintendents, like their buddy.

  6. My 2018 estimated property value that was just released has gone up 23%. That makes a total of 40.3% in 3 years. Property values rising is already a huge tax increase on all home owners. There should be no need to add an additional increase. In fact our tax “Rates” should be dropping as values soar. How do they expect homeowners to continue to afford these increase, when wages are not increasing at a nearly the same pace?

  7. Check administrative costs before giving them a dime. But, if it checks out, vote Yes! It’s very expensive to run a school district, and the state is always playing with funding.

  8. More you give the more they spend. Run away Goverments with financial irresponsibility! Teaching for state tests at the cost of your children’s education. And then I would say nickel and diming you to death but is millions upon millions. Along with outrageous property taxes. The system is broken!!! And yet politicians sidestep the issues. Damn sad

  9. I thought it was Ridiculous when they asked for over $1 billion! Now they’re looking for even more money on top of that. You’d have to be crazy to vote for that…

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