Pampa ISD to host voter-approval tax rate election

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PAMPA, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — After officials with the Pampa Independent School District made the decision to refund their debt at a lower interest rate earlier this year, voters in the district are going to decide if the district will move those savings, ultimately providing more money coming to the district from the state. 

Pampa ISD will host a voter-approval tax rate election on Nov. 2, giving voters the decision to move two cents from the interest and sinking portion of the district’s tax rate to the maintenance and operations portion. If approved, this would open the door for the district to receive an additional $600,000 from the state in funding. 

According to the proposition’s language, the voters will have the decision on whether or not to ratify “the ad valorem tax rate of $1.2384 in (the) Pampa Independent School District for the current year, a rate that will result in an increase of 0.97 percent in maintenance and operations tax revenue for the district for the current year as compared to the preceding year, which is an additional $102,036.”

Hugh Piatt, the superintendent at Pampa ISD, said this process began after the district made the decision to refund their debt at a lower interest rate in February, saving the district approximately $3 million. The debt service was for the high school, the junior high school, the district’s central office as well as other buildings throughout the campus. 

“By doing that lower interest rate, over the course of that debt, we will save over $3 million, which equated to about $200,000 a year, or about two cents of that debt,” he said. 

When asked why this decision has to be an election, Piatt said that the state “basically says it has to be” a decision up to the taxpayers. 

“The way that it’s worded on the ballot is that Pampa ISD is proposing a tax rate increase for maintenance and operations. And so, we actually are increasing the tax rate for maintenance and operations by those two pennies. But we got those two pennies from the interest and sinking side, and that’s not part of the ballot,” he said. “…The wording of the law says we have to tell you that we’re increasing taxes on the maintenance and operations side, which we are. But we are saving those two pennies off the interest and sinking side. So the tax rate to the district… stays the same.” 

By moving those savings to the maintenance and operations portion of the tax rate, Piatt said they could fund other school necessities, including upgrading the district’s facilities as well as staying competitive in the district’s compensation plan compared to other area districts.

“Our intent is, once again, to stay competitive in our compensation plan. Also, we’re looking at putting some roofs on some buildings, buildings that are 50, 60, 70 years old. We’ve got some facility needs that we will use this money for,” he said. 

Future use of the funds could also go towards compensation for other staff members, including bus drivers and substitutes, increase the district’s technology access as well as maintenance of the district’s facilities. 

Through their messaging to taxpayers within the district, Piatt said the district is trying to make it as simple as possible. 

“A vote for the proposition basically means that you’re voting for us to move the two pennies from I&S to M&O and get an additional $600,000 from the state,” he said. “The wording of the ballot gets complicated because of the law. But in the end, your tax rate does not increase and we generate an additional $600,000.” 

Voting Information for the Pampa ISD Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election 

Early voting for the Pampa ISD Voter-ApprovalTax Rate election will occur from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays through Oct. 29. The main early voting location is in the non-jury courtroom at the Gray County Courthouse, located at 205 N. Russell in Pampa. 

On Election Day, which is Nov. 2, voters in the Pampa ISD Voter-Approval Tax Rate election will occur between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. District voters must vote in the county precinct in which they reside at the following locations: 

  • No. 1: Gray County, precincts one, two, five, six and seven; MK Brown Auditorium, located at 1000 N. Sumner in Pampa; 
  • No. 2: Roberts County, Precinct four-two; Wayside School – Little Red School House, loathed at 698 FM 282 in Pampa; 
  • No. 3: Roberts County, precinct three, Miami Community Center located at 103 S. Main in Miami. 

For more election coverage for other communities throughout the Texas Panhandle, visit MyHighPlains.com. 

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