School board OKs 1.6 pct levy decrease

Published 10:44 am Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Austin Public Schools Board approved its 2016 levy at about 1.6 percent lower than 2015’s.

The school board voted unanimously to finalize the 2016 levy at just above $6.7 million Monday at its regularly scheduled truth in taxation meeting in the City Council Chambers. The finalized levy didn’t change from the preliminary levy set in September.

During this spring’s special session, the state Legislature passed the Longterm Facility Maintenance Revenue, which will replace the former Health and Safety Revenue, deferred maintenance revenue, and alternative facilities bonding.

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“The bottom line is we receive more revenue as a school district in total, that’s the good news, and our property tax payers pay less than they paid last year, so it’s kind of a win-win situation for us this year,” Finance and Operations Director Mark Stotts said. “Revenue goes up, property taxes go down.”

Stotts previously explained the new system will give districts more money, and Austin will get about $200,000 to $250,000 more revenue for the 2016-17 fiscal year than they will receive this school year. This revenue means property taxes could go down next year since there will be more state aid.

The money can go to any health and safety project such as asbestos removal or fire marshall orders, or to deferred maintenance projects such as roofing or HVAC systems repairs.

Though the decrease is only by about 1.6 percent, Stotts said that is better than increasing the levy, which could happen next year depending on what the state Legislature does.

“The good news is we aren’t increasing them, that seems to be the general trend with inflation and everything else,” he said. “Because we’re so heavily regulated by the state, we rely on the state for our funding a lot more than our local property taxes. So we’ll see increased money from the state but not from property taxes, so that’s the good news.”

Stotts also noted that not all property taxes could go down, because although school taxes are dropping, some personal property values could rise which would increase personal property taxes.