Image: Kelli Cook, of the Willis area, led conservative Republican activists in their successful effort to persuade the Conroe Independent School District to adopt a tax rate lower than the “effective tax rate,” so taxes for the average taxpayer, for the first time in history.
Conroe, August 21 – Conservative Republican activists Kelli Cook, John Hill Wertz, and an army of other volunteers vociferously – and successfully – lobbied the Conroe Independent School District’s (CISD) administration and two of its Board of Trustees members to persuade them to adopt a tax rate below the “effective rate.” CISD’s Board succumbed to the enormous pressure and adopted a tax rate of $1.230 per $100 valuation for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
The “effective tax rate” is the is the rate at which taxes would be the same or lower as the previous tax year after taxpayers suffered property tax appraisal increases from the CISD-controlled Montgomery Central Appraisal District. The “effective tax rate,” based upon appraisal increases within CISD’s geographic boundaries, is $1.2344 per $100 valuation.
CISD, therefore, on the motion of Trustee Skeeter Hubert, one of the two lobbied Board members, adopted a tax rate slightly below the “effective tax rate.” Trustee Dale Inman also met with activists to assist their communications with CISD Chief Financial Officer Darrin Rice and Superintendent Curtis Null.
Cook told The Golden Hammer, “Tonight’s vote was a great victory showing the power of citizen participation. CISD taxpayers, particularly those facing tough money circumstances, are facing serious challenges from school taxes. At least now, they’re getting a little bit of relief, although not much.”
Wertz, who is the elected Treasurer of the Montgomery County Republican Party and is an expert in financial matters, said, “For conservative activists, it’s an historic win! We’re saving taxpayers $1.7 million from the Budget CISD had originally proposed.”
Hubert, who was very helpful to the conservative effort and worked very hard with CISD administration officials to get the tax rate below the “effective tax rate,” told this newspaper, “We all won tonight. From the school district to the citizen advocacy groups but especially all CISD tax payers. I want to thank everyone involved with helping me understand how to deliver to the taxpayers the advertised tax relief. Lowering the tax rate below the effective rate is not enough but a step in the right direction. At $1.23, CISD will meet the needs of the 2019-2020 budget, provide much needed tax relief to our tax payers, and keep us in a good financial situation for the 2020-2021 budget.
Sadly, CISD still passed a budget which is enormously higher than last years, increase spending by over $34.4 million.
CISD’s Board of Trustees also increased the Debt Service rate enormously, by 4 cents per $100 valuation, an increase which is higher than the tax rate would have been if voters had approved the gargantuan $807 million bond on May 4, 2019. Clearly, the school district’s administration has pushed through the huge tax rate increase in order to misrepresent to voters that the $676 million bond involves no tax rate increase. Of course, the trick is that the Board passed the Debt Service tax rate increase last night as part of the Budget without allowing voters to approve it.
CISD had proposed a 26.5 cent per $100 valuation Debt Service, which would have been a 4.5 cent Debt Service rate increase. The activists lobbied and worked with Hubert, Inman, Rice, and Null to achieve the lower tax rate.
Cook added, “The Golden Hammer needs to mention the other people who were instrumental in getting this important savings done: Jennie Stephenson, Jon Bouche, Andy de la Flor, Bob Bagley April Andreski, Bill Brenza, Cindy Muth Gaskill, Jonna Johnson, John Nickell, Sandy Grossman, Mark Frank, Scott Shaver, Sandi Curtis, Richie Rankel, Ginger Russell, Mary Jo Hudnall, Allison Winter, Cheila McKay, and many more great people.”