Waco ISD has raised taxes. The board recently approved a tax rate of $1.40408 – a half-cent lower than last year.
Though this may look like a tax cut, it is in fact a tax increase. Because the district’s tax base increased by 10 percent over the past year thanks to higher appraisals, Waco ISD’s revenue will increase significantly, to approximately $170.3 million. Meanwhile, the average Waco homeowner will see a property tax increase of around $56.55.
This decision came after a public hearing, as is required by law, which no citizens spoke in opposition or even at all.
The school district plans to use the additional taxpayer funds to give a $1,000 pay raise to teachers, and a 1.5–2 percent pay raise to administrative and support staff. If this raise applies to Waco ISD Superintendent Marcus Allen, he will see his salary increase from $272,000 to upwards of $277,440. Additionally, the district’s budget increased to hire teachers for special programs such as “gifted and talented” and “bilingual intervention support,” and to purchase new equipment for live broadcasting.
Some Waco ISD officials seemed to want to curb the district’s spending increases.
Waco ISD Board of Trustees President Pat Atkins claimed the district cannot continue to dip into their fund balance to cover budget increases like they did this year, when the district’s budget increased by $6 million. According to Atkins, the largest and fastest-growing expenditure for the district is teacher salaries.
Hopefully, Waco ISD officials do not give in to pressures to increase spending as a way to fund salary increases, forcing them to increase property taxes again next year. Instead, officials should scrutinize their administrative budgets in ways that prioritize the classroom without overburdening the taxpayers.