School district recapture may not apply this year, proposed tax rate to be published soon

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The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees met for the first time after their summer break and approved publishing of its proposed tax rate for next year.

The district is targeting next weekend, Aug. 10-12, as the date for print publication of the notice. The proposal does not appear to be online on the district’s financial transparency website yet, but we will update once it does. A PowerPoint presentation suggested lowering the interest and sinking tax rate from $0.3675 to $0.355, and the district cannot raise the $1.04 maintenance and operations tax rate without holding an election.

The proposal also includes setting Aug. 27 as the date for a special meeting to pass the tax rate and associated budget, a date which is already set aside on the district calendar. The district’s fiscal years start Sept. 1, meaning that the meeting to approve fiscal year 2019’s budget will take place four days before the start of that fiscal year.

Perhaps the biggest news out of the meeting, though, is that the recapture penalty LISD will be expected to pay to Texas could be smaller than expected. The district has been adjusting to start paying into the state’s “Robin Hood” recapture setup since it learned in December that there had been an unexpected drop in enrollment the previous year.

The idea behind the state’s recapture setup is to have rich school districts pay back into the state, which then supports poorer districts, hence the “Robin Hood” nickname. A district’s wealth is determined by measuring property value against weighted average daily attendance — or simply, property tax value in the district per student-hours spent in district schools. When the district lost 782 students and its property tax values continued to rise, the wealth per average daily attendance shot up past the point that LISD would be considered a “rich” district.

District officials had been anticipating this, but not so early.

For months in budget discussions, the district had expected to owe about $700,000 in recapture payments for fiscal year 2018, which would increase to more than $35 million in fiscal year 2019 and more than $73 million in fiscal year 2020. But now, based on summer attendance numbers, that number for fiscal year 2018 might be going down. District CFO Mike Ball said that after the summer public education information management system submission, the district might not owe anything just yet.

“It [the July 25 roll data] supports what we knew all along, which is that students are coming to us with greater needs,” Ball said. “That, then, has reduced our projected recapture amount. In fact, it may totally eliminate the recapture for the current year.”

The summer PEIMS submission is one of the final calculation criteria for calculating WADA, but Ball said they still need to look at tax collection for the next month to be certain.

District superintendent Kevin Rogers joked at the meeting’s start about the constant shifting of budget numbers.

“We worked a lot since last december to get to this point, and one of the things I know you’re aware of and we appreciate your flexibility on is that numbers are always changing,” he said. “But we are ready to have the numbers not change.”

At the end of the meeting, Rogers gave an update on the citizen budget committee that he suggested earlier in the year. He said he finalized the list of people on the committee, and said that the first meeting is set for Sept. 5.