OISD tax ratification election is Saturday

Published 6:03 am Saturday, October 3, 2015

Early voting has concluded and election day is here as residents of a local school district continue to head to the polls.

The Orangefield Independent School District called for a tax ratification election earlier this summer, and that election takes place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3, at voting locations for the residents of Orangefield ISD. A total of 120 ballots were submitted during early voting, which was conducted from Sept. 16 to Sept. 29.

Voting locations for Saturday’s election are the library of Orangefield High School for those in Precinct 33, Pecan Acres Baptist Church for those in Precinct 22, The Orange County Expo and Convention Center for OISD residents in Precinct 32, and the Orange County Drainage District location for those in Precincts 13, 15 and 30.

The Board of Trustees have called for a 13-cent increase to the district’s maintenance and operation fund, which is currently at $1.04. Along with the Interest and Sinking rate, the total tax rate if $1.17. If voters approve the 13-cent increase, the new rate would become $1.30.

According to the Texas Association of School Boards, a district that adopts a tax rate above its rollback tax rate must, in most circumstances, hold an election for the voters to ratify the higher rate. If a majority of the votes cast favor the proposition, the tax rate for the current year is the rate adopted by the board. If the proposition is not approved, then the board may not adopt a tax rate for the current year that exceeds the rollback rate.

The Orangefield ISD current tax rate of $1.17 is the lowest among the five school districts in Orange County. The district also offers a 20 percent homestead exemption, which only one other district in Orange County does as well.

In a previous interview with Dr. Stephen Patterson, superintendent of the Orangefield Independent School District, the Trustees opted to request a tax rate increase from the voters instead of making cuts in district operations ias “the district is at the point where it may not be able to continue offering certain programs in the future.”

If voters approve the tax increase, it will generate nearly $950,000 in additional revenue for the district.

If approved by voters, the 13-cent increase would also mean an increase in property taxes for residents of Orangefield ISD. The median home value of a residence in Orangefield, a figure generated by the Orange County appraisal district, is approximately $117,000, which means half of the residences are worth less than $117,000 and the other half are worth more than $117,000.

According to information provided by Orangefield ISD, which is also available on the district’s website, taxpayers would see an average monthly increase of $8.52. Current school taxes per year, based on the above median value, is $919.62 or $76.84 per month.

The Trustees have already laid out plans for the funding, if approved by voters, to ensure students of Orangefield ISD are able to receive a wide-variety of educational opportunities.

These include vocational course offerings for students to earn licenses and certifications in cosmetology, welding, criminal justice, nursing and more, as well as offering more courses in technology related fields and dedicating funds to classroom infrastructure, computers, teacher supplies and textbooks.

Facilities are in need of addressing as well, according to the letter sent to district residents. Additional funding generated by through the TRE, if approved by voters would help make upkeep and maintenance a priority. Also, transportation needs could be met, the district could update its fleet of buses quicker than at its current pace of purchasing one new school bus per year at $92,000. The district has 25 routes, which means some buses are over 20 years old.

In 2005, Orangefield ISD residents had a tax rate of $1.61 per $100 valuation, which is 44-cents more than the current tax rate the district has had for the past 9 years. A mandatory reduction due to state regulations was the source of the considerable decrease in 2006, but, with inflation and the devastating state cutbacks in education in 2009, the Trustees decided it was time to take action to improve the district.

For more information related on the Trustees request for the tax ratification election, visit the school district website at www.orangefieldisd.com.