How The Houston School District Plans To Cover A $24 Million Deficit With 2-Cent Tax Hike

School's out for the summer. But many school districts are still at work, figuring out their budgets for next year. The board for the Houston Independent School District is considering a 2-cent property tax increase.

HISD’s chief financial officer, Ken Huewitt, has some key numbers about the proposed budget for next school year.

The total budget: “$1.62 billion”

The deficit: “$24.6 million dollars.”

And the proposed tax increase: “Two cents.”

HISD estimates that tax hike would cost the average homeowner an extra $33 dollars a year. It would be on top of a slight increase last year.

Huewitt explains what it would cover.

“It would’ve covered the deficit of the $24.6 million and then there would still have been some dollars left.”  

That would leave $5 million dollars for all campuses and about $20 million dollars just for struggling schools.

But the board could decide to raise taxes even more — an extra two cents on top that.

“So now a total of four (cents), we were looking at a 2 percent salary increase, which is effectively for this district about $19.8 million dollars.”

Trustees like Juliet Stipeche are trying to balance those dollars for the district and the burden on taxpayers.

“I’ve heard both different sides from my community. I know that HISD has many, many students that are in need, but we also have many taxpayers that are experiencing struggling times given the economy as well.”

The HISD board will vote on the budget at its meeting Thursday. That will set the tone for the final vote on the tax rate in October.

Related Content: HISD Struggles to Overcome Budget Shortfall

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Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...