Burnet CISD board committed to lowest tax rate, best future

The District has been working on developing its budget since January and has conducted two budget workshops to date, one in March and one in May. The next budget workshop is scheduled for June 5. A key data point in developing the District’s budget is property values. County property value estimates were provided to the District by the Burnet Central Appraisal District on April 25. The District had been working under the conservative assumption of a 2% property value increase for the upcoming school year, but the actual estimate came in higher at 6%.

Based on comments I have heard and read, I want to make clear that Burnet CISD does not determine property values. The District does set two tax rates each year- Maintenance and Operation (M&O) for day to day operation of the District (salaries, utilities, transportation, etc.) and Interest & Sinking (I&S) to pay off the District's debt related to bond programs. The District's M&O rate is currently $1.04 and is as low as it can be without being penalized by the state. The I&S rate was lowered by a penny in August 2016 and is currently $0.28. Because of rising property values, the Board of Trustees is looking at strategies that would lower the I&S tax rate next school year and pay off existing debt earlier than originally scheduled. The Board of Trustees is committed to having the lowest possible tax rate while maintaining a commitment to planning for the future, offering the highest quality educational programs and being fiscally responsible while servicing its debt. Approval of the final tax rates will be made when the budget is adopted this August.

The increased property value means that the property wealth per student in Burnet CISD is projected to reach a threshold defined in law which will result in Burnet CISD being subject to “recapture.” This means that Burnet CISD for the first time ever will be required to “share the wealth” through the “Robin Hood” school finance plan by paying “recapture.” These recapture funds are then sent to the State for redistribution among other school districts. Based on current estimates, Burnet CISD would make its first recapture payment to the State in the 2018-2019 school year. To plan for this, the District is including a $200,000 line item in the upcoming budget so that we have the funds identified to make this payment. Only funds generated by the M&O tax rate are subject to recapture. All funds generated by the I&S tax rate must stay in Burnet CISD.

Because the State adopts its budget for a biennium, Burnet CISD always plans a two year budget framework so that we are looking ahead for any possible budget challenges like recapture. We take very seriously our responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

To wrap up, I want to share six words with you- Your Generosity. Our Community. Their Future. These six words capture the mission of the Hill Country Community Foundation (HCCF). The HCCF is a non-profit organization committed to the support of civic, health and educational programs that enrich the lives of citizens in Burnet. The HCCF invests in students and the community by offering a scholarship to EVERY student graduating from Burnet High School or Quest High School that is pursuing post high school education or training.

Tomorrow, May 18 at 7:00 p.m., the HCCF will award over $300,000 in scholarships to Burnet and Quest High School students. Since 1983 the HCCF has awarded $4.6 million in scholarships to Burnet graduates. That is an incredible investment in our young people, and a commitment that you don’t find in other communities- big or small. If you want to see this community’s investment in our future at work, feel free to join us at Burnet High School on May 18- It is a special evening.

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