Texans who go to the polls in November to vote on federal, state, and local candidates may find something extra on their ballots—a tax increase.
At least 10 Texas school districts are asking local voters to approve higher property taxes, including Lovejoy Independent School District.
Lovejoy and other districts are using Voter-Approval Tax Rate Elections (VATRE) to reclaim money meant to be returned to property taxpayers.
Legislation passed in 2019 forces school districts to lower (“compress”) their property tax rates a certain amount each year, saving local taxpayers money that the state replaces. Higher rates require voter approval.
This year, the state required Lovejoy ISD to lower its tax rate by 6 cents, to $1.44 per $100 valuation.
Lovejoy ISD’s VATRE asks for a property tax rate that is 3 cents higher, $1.47 per $100 valuation.
According to the Collin County Appraisal District, the average Lovejoy ISD home value is $835,862, with a taxable value of $675,420.
If the VATRE fails, the average Lovejoy ISD homeowner’s school tax bill will be $9,745. If the higher tax rate passes, the average homeowner will pay $9,959—an additional $214.
At the higher rate, the district would collect an estimated $3.2 million more in maintenance and operating (M&O) revenue from local property taxpayers starting in 2022-23—a 13 percent increase over the previous year.
Yet only about $640,000 would remain in the district; the rest would go to the state as “Robin Hood” recapture payments that redistribute locally levied school tax dollars from property-rich to property-poor districts.
The M&O taxes are used to fund the district’s regular expenses—primarily salaries, but also things like instructional materials and utilities. (Interest and sinking taxes collected to repay debt are approved separately as part of bond propositions. Lovejoy ISD maintains the maximum allowed I&S rate of $0.50 per $100 valuation.)
District officials say they need the extra tax revenue to raise salaries and stave off future budget deficits.
Lovejoy ISD is located in Collin County and serves about 4,200 students from Lucas, Fairview, and parts of Allen and McKinney. The district also accepts transfer students and charges them tuition as a way to earn extra revenue.
The district made headlines this summer when a Lovejoy High School teacher was allowed to resign after sending sexually explicit messages to a student. The district also revealed in August it had employed a teacher who was later arrested on charges of sexual contact with middle school students while teaching at Allen ISD.
Dozens of school districts and cities across Texas are holding November elections for tax increases and/or bonds that must be repaid by local property taxpayers.
Election Day is November 8. Early voting runs October 24 through November 4.