WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - WFISD officials announced on Monday that House Bill 3 could be affecting the results of the Tax Ratification Election (TRE).
The TEA is now saying if a school district did not write in their strategic plan last fall that they were looking to do a TRE then the state is not going to recognize the election results, which creates a problem for the Wichita Falls ISD.
Wichita Falls voters agreed on June 15 to get rid of the interest and sinking tax rate and raise the maintenance and operation rate.
That meant the overall tax rate would have gone down to $1.17, and the district would have gotten an addition $1.4 million in revenue from the state of Texas.
If the TRE is recognized, thanks to House Bill 3 the overall tax rate would drop even more to around $1.06.
If the TRE is not recognize the tax rate will still go down but not as much.
It will drop to $1.15 but the district will not get that extra $1.4 million in revenue they were expecting WFISD.
Superintendent Michael Kuhrt says they were not aware this would be the case until they were notified by the TRE just last week, and were told they are required to come up with a tax rate by the end of this month.
The district is looking at ways to fight it.
Kuhrt stated, “There are injunctions you can file. If there are five other districts in the state of Texas that are in the same situation we are, because we’ve heard there’s five that passed TREs this spring, we could go together and spring some suit against the state saying ‘That’s not right’.”
Representative James Frank released a statement on the situation saying: “With the passage of HB 3 during the most recent legislative session, the state significantly streamlined the complexity of the school finance structure. However, that legislation also closed a tax swap loophole that has been available for years. I am disappointed that local taxpayers and the WFISD will not be allowed to take advantage of the same taxing mechanisms that numerous other districts around the state have enjoyed and the increased state funding that comes with it.”
“While the way Texas funds schools is better and more streamlined after HB 3 than before, this is another example of the real-world effects an overly complex school finance system has on our students, teachers, and taxpayers. I will keep working with local administrators to determine if there's a way forward to accomplish the two positive goals of the "swap and drop" proposal—lowering local property taxes AND bringing additional revenue to the district.”
Wichita Falls school board members plan to discuss this new information that has been brought to light in their next official board meeting.