Despite enrollment declining four years in a row, Austin ISD taxpayers are staring down the barrel of paying even more in property taxes. On Monday, the Austin ISD School Board approved their 2016-2017 budget — the largest in their history — at a staggering $1.3 billion.
Although the budget accounts for the declining enrollment — a loss of about 1,300 students — the average homeowner (with a taxable value home of $328,844) can expect to pay an extra $336 per year. While officials voted to decrease the tax rate by one cent (to $1.192 per $100 of assessed value), property appraisals have consistently risen from year to year.
While the new budget represents a 12 percent increase over last year’s budget, the operations budget is only increasing by 2 percent — due to the massive amount of money the district is forced to concede due to Robin Hood. AISD pays more in recapture than any other district in the state — about a third of its budget. The district will pay out $406 million in recapture – an increase of nearly 50 percent versus last year.
The new budget also includes an across-the-board salary increase of roughly 4 percent for teachers, totaling $20 million. The average teacher’s salary in AISD is currently $48,037.
If history is any indicator, the projected increase in overall tax burden is just that — a projection. Often, they fail to account fully for the associated costs, meaning homeowners can expect to be soaked with a higher burden than initially published. Only time will tell if that happens, but one thing remains true for homeowners: accountability needs to be brought to the appraisal process.