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The updated bill for recapture and detachment

Here are the numbers as we now face them.

Houston ISD voters will face a choice of either paying the state’s $77.5 million recapture fee, or risk losing $98.4 million in tax revenue over the next fiscal year, according to new dollar figures given to trustees.

Those were the options presented to HISD trustees Thursday when for the first time school district officials gave firm numbers on both scenarios since voters last November told district officials to not pay the state’s recapture fee. Recapture involves the state’s mandate that the district pay millions to help subsidize poor districts.

Houston ISD faces recapture because, according to the state’s funding formula, the district is deemed property wealthy even though most of its student population is economically disadvantaged.

Glenn Reed, general manager of HISD’s Budgeting and Financial Planning, said the district would end up with less money over time if the state detaches property than if it pays the state’s recapture fee. That’s largely because Houston commercial real estate values are expected to grow in the next five years. If the state takes away some of those properties, Reed said the district will lose out on both those property taxes and any increases in taxes realized through higher property values.

“For HISD, our investment is our properties,” Reed said. “As our properties’ (values) continue to grow, that helps us build schools and fix costs and so on.”

[…]

During the meeting, Reed also reviewed the language that would appear in May’s referendum. It would ask: “Authorizing the board of trustees of Houston Independent School District to purchase attendance credits from the state with local tax revenues.” A vote “for” purchasing attendance credits would mean the district would willingly pay the state’s recapture fee. A vote “against” would mean the state would detach some local personal property.

If HISD keeps all its commercial properties and benefits from increased property values, Reed estimated the district could see its budget continue to grow over the next five years by $66.8 million after the recapture payment is made. If the commercial properties are detached, he said the district could see a loss of $98.4 million in 2017-2018 and would lose any future property value growth.

See here and here for the background. As noted before, I voted No on the November 2016 referendum on the hope that rejecting recapture might spur some legislative action and the knowledge that we could vote again if we needed to. I figured a re-vote would be to possibly reconsider the consequences of detachment if nothing good happened; I honestly didn’t expect a re-vote after a positive development like the TEA reinterpretation of the Robin Hood law. But here we are, and I believe that having achieved a substantial victory, albeit not a complete one, we should grab onto it and move forward. So I will vote in favor of recapture this time around, which by the way will be less than eight weeks from today. I figure the encore vote will have much lower turnout than the original did. Has any of what happened since November changed your mind, and your vote, on this?

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5 Comments

  1. voter_worker says:

    I will be voting “for” purchasing attendance credits. In my opinion, creating fragmented pockets of Aldine ISD within the territory of HISD is a terrible idea that should be rejected. Which district’s election will the voters at these properties vote in? If children are residing at any of these properties, which district’s schools would they be eligible to attend? I have used the Voter Registrar’s records to determine that there are registered voters involved. I stopped counting at 72.

  2. Ross says:

    Only the property gets detached, and only for paying taxes. Anyone resident in the property (which shouldn’t really happen) would still vote in the elections for HISD, and their children would still attend HISD schools.

  3. voter_worker says:

    Ross, who has made this determination? I’ve not seen or heard any statements or rulings from the VR, the County Clerk, the County Attorney or the Secretary of State. Has anyone asked AG Paxton for an opinion? I’d appreciate a link if you have one. FYI you can register to vote at any address in Harris County.

  4. Ross says:

    Education Code 42.11 says the students can choose to attend in the district in which they live, or the district that ends up with the property.

    I know you can register to vote at any property, but that’s completely stupid and the law needs to change. The Education Code is silent on how residents of detached properties vote in school elections, I assume the Leg didn’t think people would register to vote at a commercial property address.

  5. voter_worker says:

    Thanks for the information, Ross.

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