As budget season for local governments nears its end, Ector County Independent School District trustees have proposed raising the property tax rate to the highest possible number allowed by the state and, come Monday, will vote on calling a tax ratification election this fall.

The rate was proposed at Tuesday’s ECISD board meeting where trustees unanimously approved a 2018-2019 property tax rate of $1.2759 per $100 valuation. This increases the maintenance and operations (M&O) portion of the tax rate from $1.04 to $1.17 – the highest M&O rate allowed by the state.

For the new rate to go into effect, state law requires residents to approve it via a tax ratification election (TRE). Trustees, however, voted to postpone an order calling for the TRE until their meeting this Monday.

If the board proceeds with the proposed rate and voters ratify it this fall, the average home in Ector County ($170,873) would pay an additional $192.64 a year in ECISD property taxes.

It’s no secret that the district has been eyeing yet another tax election this fall as the discussion has made local headlines for months. Whether or not voters will support it, however, is the big question.

The last TRE was held in November 2017 when voters were asked to approve a 13-cent increase to the maintenance and operations tax rate (M&O) as well as a $291 million bond.

Both propositions were soundly rejected by 60 and 62 percent of voters, respectively.

To further complicate the matter, accountability ratings released by the Texas Education Agency Wednesday showed the district to have nine “improvement required” (IR) schools, with ECISD scoring a D overall. Trustees also voted Tuesday to accept ECISD Superintendent Tom Crowe’s resignation, effective September 1. Former ECISD board member and Texas Education Commissioner Jim Nelson will serve as the interim superintendent until a permanent replacement is found.

While it appears a TRE is surely in Ector County’s future, school trustees will meet Monday evening to make the final call.

Lauren Melear

Lauren Melear leads the West Texas Bureau of Texas Scorecard. When not working, Lauren enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog, as well as cooking, working out, traveling to the hill country, and cheering on the fightin' Texas Aggies.