WFISD Approves Tax Increase

Property owners within the Wichita Falls ISD are going to see their property taxes go up this year.

During a school board meeting on Tuesday, board members approved the budget for the 2015-2016 school year, which is up.  The new budget totals $124-million, which almost a 5.5-percent increase from last year.  Michael Kuhrt, the Superintendent for WFISD said there are three different parts to the budget.

"The first part is maintenance and operations," he said, "The second part would be food services, which kind of funds itself, and the third part is our interest in sinking or our debt service amounts."

This is prompted the tax rate for the property owners in the district to increase.  As Trey Sralla, the Board of Trustees President explained the increase will net the $59.5-million to build the new career and technology center.

"Also, do major renovations and upgrades at the junior highs," Sralla said, "Plus, the memorial stadium renovations."

He explained the renovations at the stadium has been a topic of discussion among residents.  However, he said there is a long of planning that needs to be completed before anything gets done.

"We want to take our time and do it right," Sralla said, "I mean, obviously we can't do it in the middle of football season.  There's too many things going on right now."

The new tax rate that the district will be adopting is an eight-cent increase, bring the rate to $1.23.  This lines up with what school officials promised when pushing for voters to approve the school bond back in May 2015.  What the increase means for residents with a $100,000 is about a $7 a month increase.

"That is still the lowest tax rate in the area," Sralla said, "So, if you consider the services we provide the WFISD, it's a great deal."

Also during the board meeting, members got an update on the Career and Technical Education Center.  They have been working with people around the community to come up with a design concept and how the floor plan will be laid out.

"We're involving community members," Kuhrt said, "We're involving out staff members, our teachers, our higher education partners."

During a presentation, they also got a better idea of how it will look.  Kuhrt explained they know approximately how many square feet the facility will be.

"We know kind of where the boxes are going to be placed inside the big box," he said, "So, now we're working on the specifics."

The results from the environmental study the TCEQ did were also announced.  Kuhrt said everything came back good, so not all that is left is to purchase the land.  They hope to finalize that in September.

Alexandra McClung, Newschannel 6