White Oak ISD has announced a Tax Rate Election for October 11, 2008. Early voting for the election will begin September 24, 2008 and end October 7, 2008. Times and location for the voting are included in the election notice published in today’s Independent. I would like to present some information to you as voters that can be helpful in making an informed decision in this election. The purpose of this letter is not to persuade you to vote for or against the proposed tax rate. This letter is meant to give you accurate information about the request that has been made by White Oak ISD.
On August 4, 2008, The Board of Trustees at White Oak ISD adopted the budget for 2008-2009 and set the tax rate at $1.24 per $100 value. The tax rate includes a $.13 increase for maintenance and operation of the district. The total tax rate represents a five cent increase per $100 value over the $1.19 tax rate of 2007-2008. The increase will allow the district to increase revenues by approximately $680,000. That increase includes money generated through local tax collections and extra state aid.
There are four points that I want to present to the voters concerning the request for this tax increase:
- This tax increase will be used to maintain the quality of education provided at WOISD and avoid the use of our reserve funds (Savings) to pay the annual operating cost of the district. No new programs or large expenditures have been added to the budget in this planning process. The 2008-2009 Budget includes a 3% increase over the previous year and includes adjustments for rising fuel and materials’ cost, as well as state-mandated pay raises. The M&O Tax Rate of $1.17 will allow the district to provide a high quality education to the students of WOISD.
- This proposed tax rate is the maximum tax that the state allows. By maximizing tax collections at the local level, the State of Texas will increase funding for the district. White Oak ISD will receive approximately $300,000 from the state that otherwise would not come to White Oak. There are only two methods available to local school districts for increasing revenue. First, the district can receive more students and thus receive and increase in state funds for attendance. An increase in students also represents increases in expenses which negates any gains to the district. Second, the district can increase local taxes and the state will respond with increased state aid.
- The tax rate in 2007-2008 was $1.19 per $100 value. The new proposed rate is five cents higher per $100 value. The average home in White Oak will see an increase in taxes of $4.00 per month and a home valued at $250,000 will see an increase of about $9.00 per month. This represents a very modest increase compared to the benefits that the district will receive.
- Total revenues, including the funds from the increased tax rate, do not match the approved budget. This year’s budget has been worked over and reevaluated several times. As I stated earlier, it is only 3% larger that last year. The deficit, including the extra $680,000, will be approximately $200,000. With the approval of the tax rate and sound fiscal management by our principals and directors, WOISD will not realize that deficit. If the tax rate is not approved, the deficit will be close to $880,000 and reserve funds will have to be used to operate the district.
There is a great deal of information to digest when it comes to school finance and what is best for all stakeholders of the district. Please know that the Board of Trustees at White Oak ISD are doing their very best to meet the needs of our students and be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money. Many of you will have questions about the proposed tax rate and I encourage you to contact a school board member or call me at 903-291-2201. I will be glad to meet with you individually or in a group setting to help clear up any confusion or concerns. Thank you for your time and for all the support you give to White Oak Independent School District.
Michael E. Gilbert
Superintendent of Schools