‘We’re Lowering Tax Rates,’ Trustee Says, But Bill May Rise

When Joe Taylor announced at Tuesday’s Highland Park ISD board meeting that the district’s tax rate was being lowered, he requested that his declaration become a headline.

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Taylor, the finance officer for the Board of Trustees, presented a tax rate of $1.1267 per $100 of valuation to his colleagues for approval, which they granted. The previous rate for Highland Park ISD was $1.1342. For the owner of a $1 million home, that means a tax bill reduced by $75.

The district was able to reduce its debt-service tax rate to 10 cents from 10.75 cents; the maintenance-and-operations tax rate stays at $1.0267. Taylor and Tim Turner, the assistant superintendent of business services, were able to refinance the bonds “that generates a little bit of this,” Taylor said.

But the primary factor behind the reduction was the fact that the overall assessed market value of all properties in the district rose 4 percent. “You have bigger values to generate the same number of dollars,” Taylor said. So that theoretical owner of a $1 million home probably has a home that’s now valued at more than $1 million. That means the tax bill could rise, despite the tax rate going down.

In fact, although University Park has proposed keeping its tax rate at 27.845 cents, the city is billing its public hearings on Tuesday, Sept. 3, and Sept. 10 (all at 5 p.m.) as being about a “tax increase.” That’s because city officials have found that the assessed market value of the average single-family home in University Park grew from $1,092,539 to $1,153,806, a rise of 5.61 percent.

Highland Park also used the term “tax increase,” even though the town has proposed lowering its rate from 22 cents to 21.4275 cents. Its hearings are set for 4 p.m. on Monday and 8 a.m. on Aug. 30.

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