Lockhart slashes tax rate

By KathiBliss
Editor/POST-REGISTER
As a result of the Texas Legislature’s attempts to reform school finance last year, Lockhart Independent School District Taxpayers will see another significant decrease in taxes during the next year.
House Bill 1 (HB1) demanded that for the 2007-2008 school year, districts decrease their maintenance and operation tax rates by 66.67% from the 2005 tax rate. According to LISD’s Chief Financial Officer Tina Knudsen, the compressed rate mandated by the state is $1 per $100 of valuation. However, districts can opt for an additional four-cent local contribution for “local enrichment,” which LISD has done. Therefore, taxpayers will see a decrease of 33 cents per $100 for the maintenance and operations.
In addition, last year, the district adopted a tax rate of 17 cents per $100 for interest and sinking (debt service for bonded indebtedness on construction and equipment). This year, the district was able to decrease that rate to 16.2 cents, bringing the total tax rate to $1.202 per $100, a net decrease of 33.8 cents per $100.
While the decreased tax rate will significantly decrease local financial support for the district, HB1 mandates the difference be made up by the state, Knudsen said. Much of the additional state support will be drawn from an updated business tax system, which will broaden the base of taxable businesses within the state of Texas.
In other business, two LHS graduates earned their honors during the board meeting on Monday.
The pair, Bridgett Thompson and Jack Harmon, were among nearly 30 seniors in the Class of 2007 who did not pass their exit-level TAKS tests, and were not allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies in May with their friends. However, through hard work and tenacity, both students studied and retook the tests during the summer, passed and earned their diplomas. The Trustees recognized Thompson, Harmon and their families during a summer graduation ceremony.
In brief district news:
The Trustees approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Lockhart to provide a School Resource Officer from the Lockhart Police Department on the campus of Lockhart High School for the current school year. The city council is expected to approve the contract during their regular meeting on Tuesday.
They accepted a donation from local resident Elizabeth Cutney, who offered to give a 1999 Saturn sedan to the high school’s Auto Technology department. Noting the district is grateful for Cutney’s contribution, Trustee Clint Mohle also encouraged administration to examine the possibility of having the San Antonio Toyota factory donate a new vehicle, as the company has done for other districts in the area.
The board considered a change in policy regarding student expression. However, they decided to take no action in changing the current policy without further direction from the Texas Education Agency. Evidently, changes to student expression policies have caused legal entanglements for other districts in the area over the summer.
At the request of Interim Superintendent Susan Brooks and Human Resources Director Theresa Ramirez, the trustees considered several employment issues. Discussion was cut short, however, while Board President Gary Allen adjourned the meeting to discuss legal issues regarding the Open Meetings Act with district attorneys.
The LISD Board of Trustees meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference Center at Lockhart High School. The meetings are open to the public, and members of the community are encouraged to attend.

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