Victoria taxpayers could see a decrease in their school tax rate in the coming year.
In a 6-1 vote, the board agreed to consider a rate of $1.1899 per $100 of assessed valuation. Broken down that is 99.64 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for operating and 22.35-cent for debt service.
The current tax rate is $1.1935 per $100 of assessed valuation.
The board discussed the three options during a workshop Tuesday night. Board member Bret Baldwin voted against the option.
The board will also consider employee pay increases.
Board member Tami Keeling said she supports this option because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is concerned with the perception of a tax rate election in the community.
The community is dealing with a lot of hardship with job loss and health concerns and Keeling said a tax rate election shouldn’t be added to their concerns.
“I know there is always something going on but there isn’t always a pandemic,” Keeling.
Most other board members mirrored Keeling’s sentiments.
Regardless of what option is chosen, employee raises are a priority, Superintendent Quintin Shepherd said during the Tuesday meeting.
“(The option selected) doesn’t make it impossible, it changes the work we are going to do here. We know that’s a priority,” Shepherd said. “It will cause us to redouble our efforts.”
Victoria district employees are underpaid compared to other markets, according to a Texas Association of School Boards study, which the board reviewed during a meeting in June.
The TASB study showed that Victoria school district is competitive in pay for the first five years of a teacher’s career, but salaries don’t increase beyond that. Victoria’s average salary is $49,710 and the market average is $53,422, according to the study.
The Victoria school board discussed three options for possible tax rates for its operating funds and its debt service fund during a board workshop Tuesday. Two of the options come directly from the community task force, made up of 24 community members, on the district’s tax rates.
The first option discussed requires a 95.64 cents per $100 of assessed valuation rate for operating and a 22.35 cent bonded debt tax rate. The total tax rate for the 2020-21 year would be $1.1799 per $100 of assessed valuation.
The third option would be the best for increasing employee salaries by 2%, but it would be dependent on a voter approved tax rate election, officials said. It would require a $1.0064 rate for operating, which requires voter approval because it would generate more than 3% increase in revenue from the existing rate generated. The debt service rate would be decreased by 4 cents to 18.35. The total tax rate for the 2020-21 year would be $1.1899 per $100 of assessed valuation.
The 4 cent increase would come from the debt service fund. The district has paid down debt that would allow a drop in that rate. But that amount could also be moved to the operating rate and would provide enough money to give pay raises.