BISD adopts 2020-2021 tax rate

The Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees adopted a tax rate of $1.1758 cents per $100 valuation for the 2020-2021 school year, a decrease of about one cent from the current tax rate of $1.1867 for the 2019-2020 school year.

The levy results in taxes of about $102 on a $100,000 home.

The board approved the tax rate at a special-called meeting during which district CFO David Robledo explained that taxes have decreased almost 10 cents over the past two years due to changes in state funding formulas.

During the 2014-2015 school year, BISD raised taxes by 11 1/4 cents per $100 taxable value to finance school improvement projects across the district. Last year the district was able to lower the levy by almost nine cents, and this year by another penny due to tax compression under the provisions of House Bill 3, he said. In 2018, the district’s tax rate was roughly $1.26 per $100 taxable value. Tax rates have gone down, but property values have gone up, resulting in current tax bills.

When BISD approved its operating budget of $558 million for 2020-2021, it estimated property tax revenues. The values ended up coming in higher than estimated, resulting in the levy adopted Thursday afternoon.

“Today’s BISD Board of Trustees approval of a property tax reduction is more good news for local taxpayers,” board President Minerva Peña said. “The tax rate, over the past two years, has been reduced nine cents from $1.27 per $100 of property tax valuation to $1.18. In this year of uncertainty, the school district has stepped up again to ease the burden of property taxes.”

“This reduction joins achievements already in place in 2020,” Peña added. “Continued meal services, increased hotspot and device availability, and raises for both teachers and classified employees are strong indications of BISD’s commitment to its students, employees and the citizens of Brownsville.”

As the meeting ended, Superintendent Rene Gutierrez updated the board on the status of 100% distance learning, under which BISD has been operating in response to the coronavirus pandemic since schools opened Aug. 25.

He said recently he has been talking to parents and students, many of whom have expressed a desire to return to in-person instruction. A group of students from Porter Early College High School, for example, reported difficulty staying focused on their online lessons with all of the distractions at home, including caring for younger siblings and chores around the house.

“We have to be concerned about the quality of instruction,” Gutierrez said. “Distance learning is not the same as face-to-face classes. Let’s talk about the kids. Let’s talk about the parents. They want to come back.