Richardson ISD school board members will discuss a proposed increase in property taxes at its meeting tonight and call for a public hearing Wednesday, June 6. After receiving community input, they are expected to approve sending the tax hike to voters in September. District administrators have recommended bumping the Maintenance and Operations portion of the tax from $1.04 to $1.17, which would raise the average homeowner’s bill 25 percent from $2,773 to $3,467 on a $281,000 house after average exemptions. The total tax rate would rise from 1.39 to 1.52, an increase of 9.4 percent.

School Board President Justin Bono discussed the proposed tax increase at the Exchange Club meeting Friday.

“We cut approximately $4 million out of our budget to reallocate to current needs within our district, but even with that, with declines in revenue we’re facing a deficit of $9-10 million annually,” said Bono. “The legislature emerged from the last legislative session with no new operating funding for our school district. Unfortunately we are at the point now where we have to make some tough decisions.”

Bono said funds are needed for three new budget items: increased compensation for staff to close the gap with competing districts, improved campus security including additional school resource officers and boosted resources for RISD’s most vulnerable students, including those living in poverty, learning English and participating in special education programs.

RISD is likely to face some resistance to the hike.

Voters passed a $437 million bond election in May 2016, and many have seen their home values rise over the last three years resulting in increased property tax bills. Parents say they are also feeling the pinch from PTAs and booster clubs who’ve created new fundraising programs to provide “extras” for their children’s schools.

Richardson ISD, though, and Lake Highlands in particular, have a history of strong support for schools. In the history of RISD, voters have never rejected a bond proposal or property tax increase. RISD has not increased the operating tax rate since 2001.

“Unlike a lot of government entities, if we decide to move our tax rate even a fraction of a penny, it goes to the voters for ratification,” Bono told Exchange Club members. “If we go anywhere over $1.04 it will trigger a tax ratification election in about 90 days, and that will put it out in early September.”

The RISD public hearing will be held Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. at RISD headquarters, 400 S. Greenville Avenue. You can learn more about the RISD budget and tax rate history here.