School district adopts tax rate

During its regular business meeting Sept. 19, the FBISD Board of Trustees adopted a tax rate of $1.34 per $100 valuation, with $1.04 to be used for maintenance and operations and $0.30 to be used for payment of bonds.

The adoption of the 2016-17 tax rate marks the seventh consecutive year that the district has maintained the overall tax rate of $1.34, and comes as the district faces some financial uncertainties due to the state’s public school funding formula.

The adoption of the 2016-17 tax rate supports the $593 million budget adopted by the FBISD Board of Trustees in June. In the 2016-17 school year, the district is expecting an estimated $4.4 million decrease in state revenue due to the flawed state funding formula. This is occurring even as the district adds students and property values are increasing.

Despite decreases in state revenue, Fort Bend ISD Chief Financial Officer Steven Bassett said the district is in good financial standing, and could have absorbed a one or two penny reduction. However, as the state’s financial outlook changes, he recommended waiting until after the upcoming legislative session before considering whether to alter the tax rate.

“If the district keeps the tax rate the same, we will be able to pay off $7 million of debt early. This early payoff of debt will save the taxpayers $3.2 million in interest costs. Further, reducing the rate would cause the district to go into the 2017-18 year with less flexibility and significant pressure, should the Texas Legislature not provide additional funding,” said Bassett.

Cost-effective fiscal planning efforts have earned Fort Bend ISD the designation of a 2016 Five Star District from www.TexasSmartSchools.gov, which identifies districts that achieve student success while effectively managing costs. Texas Smart Schools replaced the Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST) ratings, a program previously launched by former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.

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