Eanes ISD asking voters to lower tax rate, keep more dollars local

EISD Penny Swap & Drop (KXAN Photo)
EISD Penny Swap & Drop (KXAN Photo)

WEST LAKE HILLS, Texas (KXAN) — As the polls open for early voting, there’s one Central Texas school district asking voters to lower its tax rate.

The Eanes Independent School District has been busy trying to boil down their tax ratification election, by avoiding the technical term altogether.

Under a much catchier name — 2017 Penny Swap & Drop — the district wants to redirect tax dollars, and come up with a way to send less money to the state for recapture.

They would lower the tax rate for the interest and sinking fund used for construction by about three cents, and add two cents to the maintenance and operations fund used for instruction.

“We are only as good as the people in our system,” said Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard. “We want to attract and retain high-quality staff members in all areas.”

A video on the EISD website says the swap and drop would lower the overall tax rate from $1.2125 to $1.20, and generate about $3 million in revenue, which would stay in the district.

Dr. Leonard has not heard of any opposition, but the biggest battle could be voter turnout.

“I’m sort of out of the loop as far as this election,” said Larry Kolvoord, who was visiting the shopping center with Eanes’ only early voting location.

His wife was a middle school teacher in EISD for more than 20 years, but both are now retired and spend their summers in Colorado. They just got back into town about three weeks ago, and have not had time to get up to speed on the swap and drop.

“I don’t feel right to go vote and not know what’s happening,” said Kolvoord. “If the money stays in the district, it’s a really good plan for the taxpayers as well as the education system here.”

He and his wife are in the same boat as nearly 70 percent of West Lake Hills, who have no children in the schools — a majority of the population that can be tough to reach.

If the issue fails, the tax rate will remain the same and the district will not be able to access as many local dollars.

“I just hope people get to the polls and vote,” said Dr. Leonard. “We are not advocating for anything in our roles, but I hope that we hear our communities’ opinion on this matter.”

In 2015, Eanes ISD voters approved a $52.5 million bond with no tax increase. It covered upgrades for schools including technology projects and re-purposing buildings.

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