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.

Greg Harrison

Gregory led the Central Texas Bureau for Empower Texans and Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he got involved politically through the Young Conservatives of Texas. He enjoys fishing, grilling, motorcycling, and of course, all things related to firearms.