Plains ISD asking voters to take smaller tax break, keep more money within district

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 10:17 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2022 at 11:37 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - On the ballot in Plains, the school district is asking its voters to take a smaller tax break, that way more money can stay within the district instead of going elsewhere in the state. Plains I. S. D. has called a Voter Approved Tax Ratification Election, or VATRE. The proposition will look like this on the ballot:

Plains ISD Voter-Approval Tax Rate

Ratifying the ad valorem tax rate of $1.3455 in Plains ISD for the current year, a rate that will result in an increase of 97.08 percent in maintenance and operations tax revenue for the district for the current year as compared to the preceding year, which is an additional $9,059,279.

Superintendent Robert McLain says the language on the ballot is required by law but is somewhat confusing.

“I have had people ask me, ‘Now is this, if I want this to happen, how do i vote? Because it is worded so strangely, but it is legislatively mandated that it be written in this particular form,” McLain said.

The ballot shows a revenue increase of nearly 97 percent, but McLain says there’s more going on behind the scenes.

“We have had our tax rate compressed by the state of Texas. So, our taxpayers are going to get a tax rate reduction and we’re asking them to not take as big of reduction and let us have three, what are called, golden pennies on the tax rate,” McLain said.

If the measure passes, the tax rate will still drop from about $1.42 per hundred-dollar valuation to $1.35 per hundred-dollar valuation, a nearly $0.08 decrease.

“We feel like it’s a win-win because the school’s going to get to keep these golden pennies, or the money generated from the golden pennies. We don’t have to pay it in recapture and the taxpayers are still getting a tax rate reduction and are going to save money on their taxes,” McLain said.

Plains I. S. D. is sending about $0.66 of every dollar back to the state. McLain says the district needs to keep that money, since it spent more than it brought in the past two years. The district also wants to be more competitive with staff salaries, keep classroom sizes small, and up security by adding a school resource officer. He says the start-up costs for that are $200,000 the first year alone.

“I would like them to understand that we need to do what’s right by our kids, and if that includes keeping smaller classes, protecting them, and paying their teachers so that we get to attract the best teachers that we can find, then we’re taking care of kids,” McLain said.

If it passes, McLain says Plains will keep $600,000 the state can’t take back. The district hosted two community meetings to answer questions about the election. It also has a presentation on its website.