Lubbock school districts lower tax rates while property values increase

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 9:35 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2022 at 10:25 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock County’s largest school districts have all set a lower property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year but higher property values will bring in more revenue for the districts and most property owners will pay more.

Lubbock ISD, Frenship ISD, and Lubbock Cooper ISD all adopted rates that are not high enough to have required voter approval but rather the approval of the district’s board of trustees.

Lubbock ISD lowered its total rate by about four cents to $1.0920. Approximately 92 cents of it will go to Maintenance & Operations and 17 cents will go to Interest & Sinking, or debt payments. Increased property values, which are set by the Lubbock Central Appraisal District and not school districts, will generate more revenue. The owner of a $100,000 home will pay about $23 more dollars for the Maintenance & Operations portion of the tax rate.

Frenship ISD set its total rate at $1.34440, three cents lower than last year. The Maintenance & Operations portion is 86 cents while Interest & Sinking is 48 cents. A $100,000 home in the district will have a $48.73 increase in property taxes.

“If you’ve been in the Frenship district and driven around, you’ll see many rooftops and many subdivisions being built,” Farley Reeves, FISD Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, said. “All that elevates your property values that the school district receives taxes on. That’s also what helps push the Maintenance & Operation tax rate down as you’re gaining more property values. Therefore, you need less maintenance operation taxes to make the whole system work.”

Lubbock Cooper ISD’s property tax rate has also decreased by approximately two cents to $1.3546, with 85 cents for Maintenance & Operations and 50 cents for Interest & Sinking. Taxes on a $100,000 value home will increase by $85.15.

“Fifty cents of that tax rate is for our bonded indebtedness, which in a fast growth district, the taxpayers have voted to pass bonds,” Danny Davis, LCISD Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations, said. “That services our debt so that we can continue to build facilities for our growing student population.”

The growth is fueling a larger tax base for the districts but also a larger student population.

“We’re growing at a rate of about 3.5 to 4 percent in student population a year,” Reeves said. “We have 11,160 students enrolled and that number will continue to increase for us through mid to late October. As we continue to do that, that means that you’re putting more students in the facilities you have. Therefore, you need to expand your walls so you can accommodate more kids. We want to try to maintain the student-teacher ratio that’s functional for a learning atmosphere and environment.”

Davis told KCBD his objective is to accomplish the vision of the Board of Trustees and the superintendent with the tax dollars.

“We want to be conservative with the money,” Davis said. “We want to be efficient and spend the money on educational programs first, teachers, teachers’ pay. The board is very interested in raising teachers’ pay and we’ve been consistent in doing that and being competitive in personnel and wages, but also high academic standards. We make sure our money is put in those areas.”

Frenship ISD also aims to serve the needs of its students with the support of its taxpayers.

“Our goal is to make sure that we are very responsible to the needs of our public,” Reeves said. “We want to provide the best opportunity for kids and we also want to be very fiscally responsible.”

There are a few exemptions for property taxpayers. Everyone who owns a home is eligible for a homestead exemption that could be $40,000 off the value of your home. For people 65 and older, a homestead exemption can freeze a tax rate. Applications for property tax exemptions are filed with the appraisal district.