WISD budget includes money for pay increases for teachers, auxiliary employees

Budget includes money for pay increases for teachers, auxiliary employees

By Chris Roark
croark@gannett.com

The Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees adopted a lower tax rate during a special meeting Monday night while also adopting a budget that accomplishes several of the board’s priorities.

The 2021-22 tax rate of $1.3422 per $100 will be a decrease of the current year’s rate of $1.3654. Despite the reduction, residents could have a higher tax bill if their property values increased.

In fact, Chief Financial Officer Ryan Kahlden said property values in the district increased by approximately 12 percent, with net taxable values ending at approximately $6 billion. He said the increase is being driven by new construction and rising and existing values.

Ryan Kahlden

“We do expect this to continue,” Kahlden said. “I can’t tell you that it will continue at 14 percent annual growth, but I can tell you I expect it to be a minimum of a 6 percent growth going forward.”

Because the rate is expected to raise more tax revenue, it’s required by law to be stated in the ordinance as a 5.4-percent tax increase and that it will raise taxes on a home valued at $100,000 by $51.30.

The adopted rate continues a downward trend as the 2017-18 rate was $1.5539. One reason for the drop is a provision in House Bill 3, which the Texas Legislature approved in 2019, that compressed the maintenance and operations (M&O) rate.

The M&O rate of $0.9603 is a drop from the 2020-21 rate of $0.9815. Kahlden said it’s possible the M&O rate remains at this level for a while since a provision of HB 3 states that a district’s M&O rate doesn’t have to go lower than 90 percent of the highest rate in the state, which is currently $0.9603.

The debt service rate, or the interest and sinking (I&S) rate, remains the same at $0.3839.

The board adopted a balanced general fund budget of $107.5 million.

Highlights of the budget include approving a 5-percent pay increase for all employees on the auxiliary pay scale, as well as adding $1 million to the district’s fund balance, which were both “non-negotiable” priorities for the board, Kahlden said. He said while the district is adding $1 million to the fund balance, $1.3 million will be allocated for future land purchases.

Other priorities were implementing salary adjustments identified in a survey from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB); implementing a TASB-recommended 2-percent pay increase for all staff members who are not on the auxiliary pay scale; and creating staff positions for an expected enrollment increase of 600 students.

Kahlden said HB 3 also created a formula transition grant, and Waxahachie ISD receives between $2 million and $5 million each year from that. But looking ahead, he said that expires at the end of the 2023-24 year, meaning the district will have to find ways to close the funding gap at that point.

The board also approved a debt service budget of $22.3 million and a child nutrition budget of $4.9 million.

Total tax rate trend

2017-18 $1.5539

2018-19 $1.5539

2019-20 $1.4522

2020-21 $1.3654

2021-22 $1.3442