Dear Voters of Liberty Independent School District,
Your ballot in the Nov. 8 midterm election contains an important proposition that you need to be informed about as you consider how to cast your vote.
Liberty ISD Proposition A, if approved, will allow trustees to set the tax rate at $1.27 per $100 of taxable value on your property. But what happens if the measure fails?
Recently a mailer was sent to Liberty ISD voters indicating that Proposition A would generate additional local and state revenue for excellent initiatives such as school safety, competitive salaries for District personnel, and higher education preparation. To be sure, if the proposition fails, that additional revenue would be left in Austin and the District would have to continue being good stewards of the generous support they already receive from our community.
As for your tax bill, you need to know what their mailer did not tell you. If Proposition A fails, State law limits the District’s ability to set a tax rate higher than $1.16 per $100 of taxable value. This lower rate, called the voter-approval tax rate, is a rate that all taxing entities must calculate during budget season, and it’s the maximum rate the entities may set without triggering an election. In Liberty ISD’s case, that rate is $1.16. According to the Texas Comptroller, the voter-approval tax rate is calculated such that it would still generate more revenue than last year to fund a school district’s ongoing maintenance and debt service. State Law stipulates that if a voter-approval tax rate election fails to pass, the trustees of the District may not adopt a rate higher than the voter-approval rate. It’s safe to say that Liberty ISD trustees would likely do just that.
Consider a similar ballot measure from a year ago. In November 2021, Liberty ISD asked voters to approve a tax rate of $1.35. Voters rejected that Proposition, and as a result trustees set the rate at the then-calculated voter-approval rate of $1.30. Similarly, this year they’re asking for $1.27, and if the Proposition fails they’ll be restricted to setting the rate no higher than $1.16, this year’s calculated voter-approval rate.
So how can a lower tax rate generate the same or more tax revenue? The answer is simple, albeit a bit convoluted. Earlier this year, you undoubtedly received your appraisal notice from the County Appraisal District indicating your property’s revised value for the year. According to Liberty ISD, the average LISD resident saw their home’s value increase from $147,673 to $176,524, a whopping 19.5%. It is because of those higher appraisals, and even despite an increase in the school district homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000, that the District would be able to adopt a much lower tax rate without seeing a decrease in revenue. To be clear, the tax rate we are being asked to approve would be a decrease from the 2021 rate, but keep in mind that if voters don’t approve it, the rate could not be set higher than $1.16, which would be a significantly larger rate decrease.
Liberty ISD correctly characterizes their proposed rate as a tax decrease for some residents. Property owners with a homestead exemption would save, on average, $15/year on their tax bill. However, the benevolent luxury of a homestead exemption is not available for landlords, business owners, or those with other property not carrying a homestead exemption. So, while it is true that the rate would save some folks a few bucks, it would cost many of our neighbors much more. For example, property with a taxable value of $150,000 and no exemptions would face a tax bill of $405 at the proposed rate as compared to $240 at the limited voter-approval rate.
Please understand, the purpose of this letter is not to convince you to vote one way or the other, but to help you better understand what you’re voting for (or against).
- A vote FOR Proposition A sets the tax rate at $1.27.
- A vote AGAINST Proposition A restricts the tax rate to no more than $1.16.
- Voting FOR Proposition A will save the average homeowner $15/year, but will be a tax increase on small businesses and landlords.
- A vote AGAINST Proposition A will save the average homeowner ten times that amount and is a tax reduction for everybody.
Early voting runs through Nov. 4, and Election Day is Nov. 8. Liberty ISD voters can cast a ballot at any polling location in Liberty County. Sample ballots are available at VoteLibertyCounty.com
For more information, visit:
Texas Truth in Taxation
Liberty ISD VATRE Information
Be informed and vote your values.