ISD tax increases on October ballot
MEGAN GRAY and JOEY DAUBEN
The Ellis County Press
ELLIS COUNTY – Four local school districts will ask voters to increase taxes in October instead of the Nov. 4 general election.
Avalon, Red Oak, Palmer and Italy school districts are asking for tax rate hikes or a readjustment – as in the case of Red Oak’s.
Red Oak ISD
Superintendent Scott Niven said his northern Ellis County school district proposes to adjust the two sides of his tax rate in hopes of receiving more state aid.
This would not result in a tax increase, however.
When asked if an October election had anything to do with ensuring a successful outcome and a lower voter turnout, Superintendent Alan Oakley said that wasn’t an issue.
"The reason the board made the decision to have a special election now instead of in November is because we wanted to make sure everyone who wanted to could have a chance to look over to see what we are proposing," Oakley said.
"I don’t believe this was even discussed by the board at all. There [were] a few dates open and this was what was all decided upon.
"I feel that since sometimes most people just vote a straight ticket this gives them a better chance to know what we are doing. It’s very important everyone knows what’s going on."
Palmer ISD is asking for voters to approve an 11-cent tax increase, according to a district press release sent last week.
Meanwhile, Italy ISD, located a few miles north of Avalon, is asking voters for a 13-cent tax increase.
Superintendent Jim Malone told The Ellis County Press "we are working on all the details for a 26-page presentation that will be ready to be passed out to the community next week."
Located in the southern part of Ellis County, Avalon ISD is the smallest district.
Officials could not be reached for comment on their election, but it was reported earlier this year that Avalon plans to hold a school board election as well.
Niven, who is now overseeing numerous facility projects in the 5,000-student Red Oak ISD, said the school board wanted to have the election as soon as possible.
"We wanted to hold the election as soon as legally possible," he said.
"Having the election results determined before November will allow us time to adequately plan for our additional salary disbursement and ensure we get our Teachers and Support Staff the compensation we feel they deserve. Further, the citizens of Red Oak ISD have consistently demonstrated their commitment to quality schools. Considering that, we feel our community will vote no matter what date the election is held."
The school districts are taking advantage of a state law that went into effect last year requiring voter approval for any tax rate increase.
A four-cent enrichment tax was granted before the law took effect, which every school district in Ellis County adopted.
The voter-approval for tax increases was enacted after a legislative measure designed to reduce school tax rates one-third, which many taxpayer organizations have decried due to rising appraisal values.
And in southern Dallas County, Duncanville and Cedar Hill school officials are asking for voters there to approve 13-cent tax hikes on Oct. 7.