Pflugerville ISD proposes lowering property tax rate after passage of school finance reform bill

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PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — School districts across Texas, including Pflugerville, are planning their financial futures after a new school finance reform bill is making some adjust how much financial burden they place on property owners.

On July 18, the board of trustees at the Pflugerville Independent School District proposed lowering its property tax rate by seven cents because of House Bill 3. The trustees would like to set it at $1.45 per $100 valuation, which would be lower than the previous year’s rate of $1.52 per $100 valuation.

Tamra Spence, the district’s communications officer, told KXAN that the new law requires Pflugerville ISD to alter the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) portion of its property tax rate to meet a new state standard.

“As part of HB 3, the State enacted tax rate compression throughout Texas, which affects the majority of school districts,” Spence wrote in a statement. “In Pflugerville, the legislation required the district to decrease the M&O rate from $1.06 to $0.99 per $100 valuation. We’re happy state legislators have provided relief to local taxpayers, while still providing additional funding to public education. Once adopted by the PfISD Board of Trustees in August, this will translate to a 7-cent per $100 valuation reduction for PfISD taxpayers.”

Because of House Bill 3, the state is pumping in $5 billion to make up the gap caused by school districts lowering their property tax rates.

Leann Vaterlaus, who will soon have three children enrolled at Pflugerville ISD, said she welcomed the chance to pay less in property taxes.

“I think property taxes being lowered is always a good thing,” Vaterlaus told KXAN. “Obviously, I want to have a good school district, but oftentimes when they tell us what their budget spending is, it’s still very vague.”

She also applauded the Pflugerville ISD board of trustees for recently approving salary increases for all staff members. Spence pointed out that teachers with more than six years experience received a seven percent increase, while those with up to five years of teaching experience got a 6.7 percent bump. Hourly staff members received a salary increase of five percent, and all other staff members got a four percent hike in pay. Many school districts in central Texas have given teachers raises because of House Bill 3.

“I think that’s important to value the teachers because then they will put it back into the kids,” Vaterlaus said.

Pflugverille ISD expects to hold public hearings in August on the proposed property tax rate. The board of trustees will likely vote on a final plan later in the month.

The City of Pflugerville also gave property owners a break by dropping this year’s city tax rate by more than four cents per $100 valuation. However, that may not be enough to lower their overall bill. The city projected property values to increase more than 14 percent this year, thanks to considerable population growth.

Pflugerville has grown by 31 percent from 2010 to 2017, according to the U.S. Census. Last spring, the Census ranked the city as the third fastest growing city in the country.

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