By Wendy Gragg
Killeen Daily Herald
Faced with the prospect of more students and the need to provide for them, the Killeen school board batted around the possibility of a 4-cent tax rate increase Tuesday.
School district administration presented the option to the board at the regular meeting, emphasizing the effect the increase would have on the district's funding.
Billy Walker, KISD assistant superintendent for business services, explained to school board members that without a rate increase, KISD stands to miss out on about $13 million of state funding over the next three years.
State aid to school districts comes in two basic components, Tier 1 and Tier 2. The Tier 2 funding is directly related to the state's expectations for a school district to maintain a certain level of tax collection.
"The state says, if you make this local effort, we'll give you this additional funding," KISD superintendent Dr. Charles Patterson explained. "If we do not take action this year, there's no way the state will give us help with Tier 2 funding over the next two years."
To get the maximum amount of Tier 2 funding from the state, KISD would need to raise the tax rate about 4 cents to $1.6079 per $100 valuation, which is made up of $1.4647 maintenance and operations rate and 14.32 cents debt service rate.
The current tax rate is $1.5633, made up of a maintenance and operation rate of $1.4250 and debt service rate of 13.83 cents.
Some KISD trustees, at a recent board retreat, said they were loathe to raise taxes for 2004-05. There was less discussion at the Tuesday meeting.
Board president Brenda Coley said the school board's finance committee was taken by surprise when they saw how much money would be left on the table if taxes are not increased.
Trustee Dr. Brad Buckley lamented the school district funding system, which places all the burden upon the taxpayer.
"It's unfortunate that a school district is funded in a way that, unlike a city, there are no service charges we can increase," he said.
Patterson said he felt it was his duty to present the option of an increase to the board, considering the student growth KISD is expecting and the possibility of more to come from the addition of 5,000 soldiers to Fort Hood next year.
A tax increase would by no means make up for the $10 million the board has asked administration to shave from the budget. The funds generated by a tax increase would all go toward building more schools and facilities, he said.
The school board will likely decide on the tax rate by Sept. 5 and set the tax rate Sept. 14. The next board meeting for the Killeen Independent School District is Aug. 24.
Contact Wendy Gragg at email@example.com