Employing the often-used, but highly questionable tactic of holding elections on non-uniform election dates proved successful for two school districts wanting to pass tax ratification elections.

Pleasanton Independent School District in Atascosa County and Burnet Consolidated Independent School District in Burnet County both passed TRE’s by wide margins last night with very few voters turning out.

PISD’s proposal was to swap 13 cents from the Interest and Sinking (I&S) tax rate to the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) tax rate, which would generate an additional $2 million for the district to use on salaries and other operational expenses.

Unofficial results showed PISD’s rate swap passing with 75 percent of the vote, but the district had an abysmal turnout of 5.2 percent.

BCISD, on the other hand, wanted to reduce their I&S rate by four cents, move two of those cents to the M&O side, and use the other two cents to reduce their property tax rate from $1.28 to $1.26 per $100 valuation. The district expects to generate an additional $600,000 from the swap.

BCISD’s turnout was even worse than Pleasanton. Just 4.9 percent of voters, or 797 out of 16,155, turned out, and all but 74 of those voters supported the measure. It passed with 90 percent of the vote.

There were complaints around the state leading up to August 25, as many local entities were opting to hold elections knowing that the turnout would be at its lowest. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston) is no stranger to advocating for holding elections on uniform elections dates and has vowed to fight next legislative session to prohibit local elections on non-uniform dates.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.