- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
The school board will hold a public hearing on the tax rate during its regular meeting Aug. 20.
In a 6-1 vote early Thursday morning, the board approved a proposed rate of $1.455 per $100 of appraised property value, which includes $1.17 for maintenance and operations and 28.5 cents for debt service. It’s a 3-cent increase entirely for debt. The district is at the maximum allowed for its operating tax rate.
“We have not had any debate on whether we want any tax increase,” said board member Jenny Wilson, the sole dissenting vote. “This brings in $200,000 – not even for our maintenance and operations. It doesn’t help our students at all.”
Rather than increasing taxes, Wilson said the district needs to focus on growing its residential and business tax base. Long term, higher rates will hurt the district more than help, she said. She said real estate agents have said it’s a downward spiral for attracting anyone to PISD.
“We have the highest tax rate of any district in this area,” she said. “That’s why all the businesses are located outside our district.”
School districts are limited in what they can do for attracting businesses, Superintendent Paul Trull said. Paris Regional Medical Center recently asked Paris ISD take part in a reinvestment zone that would forgive taxes on expansion at the south campus, but the law does not allow a school district to do that, he said.
PISD has a history as a high-tax, low-income district, the superintendent said, and property taxes are the only means of income the district has, by law.
“It’s a frustrating situation,” Trull said. “We haven’t been privilege to the windfall taxes of a power plant or a diaper plant or any of the expansions that have been going on.”
The board discussed the proposed increase in a meeting late last month. Thursday’s special session was the first vote.
“At that point, no one showed any disgust or dissatisfaction,” Board President George Fisher said. “That’s what we need for the district.”
“We’re dissatisfied,” said Dr. Bert Strom, board vice-president. “But I don’t see any choice.”
There may have been discussion, Wilson said, but there hadn’t been a vote up to that point. She objected to the proposed increase being “put out there” as a board decision.
PISD has enough in the debt fund to pay this year’s bill, Business Manager Tish Holleman said, but using it would wipe out that balance and require a 7-cent tax hike next year. Instead, what the district plans to do is use that money to soften the blow of the tax increase – 3 cents this year, a steady rate next year and another increase possible the year after that.
“I’m a home owner in PISD, as well,” Holleman said. “I would like to see lower taxes.”
The board will vote to officially adopt a tax rate after the hearing Aug. 20.
The proposed rate would bring in slightly less than originally estimated. PISD’s tax rolls dropped a bit between the estimated value used for its original 2012-2013 budget and the official certified values. Paris ISD had budgeted for a value of $638.46 million while the certified value came in at $632.45 million. The dip means about $15,000 less in revenue than estimated, a variation that means little in a $31 million budget.
Trull said in his first year as superintendent, the appraisal district’s numbers did not fall in line with the state’s values, which cost the school district.
“That stripped $500,000 in revenue from us,” Trull said. “We’ve never been able to make that up.”