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On August 25, 2012, voters will have a chance to head to the polls for the Tax Ratification Election (TRE) for Sweetwater ISD (Independent School District).
Early voting on the TRE started on Wednesday, August 8 and will continue through Tuesday, August 21, 2012. Early voting hours will last from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the SISD Administration Building located at 207 Musgrove.
On the day of the SISD Tax Ratification Election--on Saturday, August 25, voters can cast their ballot at the Sweetwater Middle School, located at 305 Lamar, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The process was explained during the May 2012 SISD Board of Trustees meeting by SISD Business Manager Nathan Ehlert. This opportunity would serve a two-fold purpose of avoiding additional budget cuts for the next year while giving taxpayers a lower tax rate.
Already, the district is expecting to see a state budget cut of $330,000 for the 2012-13 school year.
The school's total tax rate is split in two categories: M&O (Maintenance and Operations)--which covers daily operations within the district, and I&S (Interest & Sinking)--collections for voter-approved debt. Currently, the rates stand at $1.06 and $.165 (both per $100 value), respectively.
Due to new electrical transmission lines and mineral values, the district's taxable base will greatly increase. As a result, the I&S tax rate can be reduced.
The proposed TRE would decrease the I&S rate to $.12, while raising the M&O rate to $1.095.
In turn, this change would lower the total tax rate of SISD tax payers from the current rate of $1.225 to $1.215 and give the school district an additional $393,000 of funding. $229,000 of that amount would could from local taxes, while the other $164,000 would come in the form of state funding.
SISD acknowledged that even as economic hardships continue, they were pleased to offer some relief to taxpayers while avoiding additional budget cuts. The district currently has one of the lowest total school tax rates in the county.
Also during the May meeting, approval was given to set the rates of $1.095 for M&O and $.12 for the I&S. They also approved a noon-time public hearing to be held on Thursday, June 7 regarding the Tax Ratification Election.
While no public input was given at the June meeting, approval was given to formally adopt the total tax rate for 2012-2013 of $1.215. They also approved setting the election date for August 25--following the district's previous discussions with the Department of Justice regarding the election.
Leading up to the election, school district administrators have been presenting information on the TRE to the local civic groups at their respective club meetings. In the Sunday, August 12 edition of the Sweetwater Reporter, a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list on the Tax Ratification Election was published as well to inform voters.