Why Wichita Falls ISD’s tax swap election was a waste.

Trish Choate, writing for the Wichita Falls Times Record News, published a story headlined: Wichita Falls ISD wants to lower your taxes, but this state law could get in the way.

I asked a legislative insider to provide a summary as to what went wrong and this is that summary:

The tax rate already adopted by Wichita Falls ISD for 2019 was not calculated in the manner provided by Section 26.08, Tax Code, as amended by HB 3. Therefore, WFISD will need to recalculate its 2019 tax rate.

HB 3 states that WFISD (and all other ISDs) will not be able to “increase the rate of the district’s maintenance taxes … to create a surplus in maintenance tax revenue for the purpose of paying the district ’s debt service.” However, this statement is not different from current law that defines “maintenance and operations” as “any lawful purpose other than debt service for which a taxing unit may spend property tax revenues” (see Sec. 26.012(16), Tax Code).

The tax rate adopted by WFISD earlier this year changed the interest & sinking (debt service) rate from $0.18 to $0.00. According to the Texas Bond Review Board, through fiscal year 2018, WFISD had $116.9 million in outstanding debt. Therefore, adopting a $0.00 I&S rate would likely result in WFISD using maintenance & operations tax revenue for debt service.

In other words, officials at Wichita Falls ISD screwed up and wasted the entire election process and expense because they did not follow the previous or new laws, at least that is how I understand it.


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