Keller ISD – Swap and Drop or Bait and Switch?

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Keller ISD again is coming to voters asking to increase the tax rate above the max allowed. Apparently, the massive bond money, revenue increases from unprecedented home valuation increases, and long term budget deficits are not enough to cover an apparent inability to spend within their means. They are now planning a tax rate increase so large that it requires taxpayers to vote themselves a larger property tax bill than what we should have to pay. Remember when they did this a few years ago? Voters overwhelmingly said no and then the district punished the voters by limiting bus services.

Over the last several years, the taxpayers in Keller ISD have continued to realize ever increasing and over burdensome property tax increases due to a number of factors.

1. Bonds burdening the district with over $1 billion of debt
2. Long term budget deficits
3. Significant home valuation increases and,
4. Most significant, a school board unwilling to decrease the I&S tax rate so that taxpayers would see little to no increases in their tax bill.

Keller ISD continues to show it has little respect for its taxpaying citizens while voters in Tarrant County overwhelmingly made their desire clear in multiple Republican ballot propositions that they demand property tax reform.

The taxpayer funded and witty “Swap and Drop” marketing campaign is nothing more than a bait and switch that will increase the M&O, a tax rate that will be almost impossible to ever decrease. Did you get that? YOUR tax dollars are paying for a marketing campaign to sell YOU on voting to raise YOUR taxes.

Your property tax bill portion from your local school is made up of 2 rates, the M&O and the I&S. The I&S or “Interest and Sinking” rate is used to pay off debts held by the district, where the M&O or “Maintenance and Operation” funds the operating budget for the district. Since the M&O rate funds the operating cost of the district, this rate once increased, will never go down (when was the last time you saw a government entity decrease their own budget). The I&S rate, however, theoretically should go down as bond debts are paid down over time. Theoretically, because it still requires a vote by the school board to do so.

Now, those getting mad while reading this article are screaming about the fact that you think I am intentionally not discussing the “drop” portion of their clever slogan. I AM intentionally burying that lead here.

Keller ISD is proposing to swap a $0.14 I&S rate decrease for a $0.13 M&O rate increase, netting a so “generous” $0.01 rate drop. The fact that the school board has the ability to decrease the I&S rate by $0.14 and have not, should be appalling to all Keller ISD taxpayers.

The takeaway here is that the Keller ISD school board has had the ability to significantly lower our property tax bill by voting to lower the I&S tax rate and has not done so, but instead has decided to hold any kind of property tax relief hostage in order to increase their budgets at the expense of ours.

So what can you do? You, the taxpayer has the influence to affect change to your property tax bill. Demand real fiscal responsibility from your school district, the same responsibility you accept over your own budgets. Demand a lower tax rate and no more increases to your already bloated property tax bill.

Contact the Keller ISD school board and the superintendent. Respectfully let them know your demands.


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