Carroll ISD voters reject tax increase; more cuts coming

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on September 17, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 17 at 5:09 PM

SOUTHLAKE — Big changes could be coming for one of the most recognized school districts in the state.

On Saturday, voters in Carroll ISD rejected a proposed 2-cent property tax increase. Now the school board will have to consider serious cuts to academic programs.

Just 11 percent of Southlake's voters cast a ballot in the Tax Ratification Election. The increase failed by a vote of 1,321 to 919.

"I wish we had more people that would come out to vote for it, for the issue, one way or the other,” said Carroll ISD Board President Read Ballew.

He told News 8 the board posted its budget-saving options online, and the increase was the next item on the list.

After it failed, the cuts and revenue increase become more severe. Ballew said teaching jobs are next on the list.

"We don't have a choice. We can either increase revenue some other way, or we can reduce the level of service," Ballew said. "We're a school district. Level of service means the number of teachers we have teaching our kids."

The Carroll ISD budget website said trustees already cut personnel in administration, and tried to sell the old Carroll Intermediate School property.

Families already pay $250 per student per year to ride the bus. That could increase to as much as $500.

The property tax increase would have been offset by an expiring 1.5-cent tax. The district said total change in taxes would have been about $25 for the average home in Southlake.

But opponents argue that tax rates are already high enough.

Bill Brandt led the political action committee Dragons for Fiscal Responsibility. He said no one is against education, but a small group of voters didn’t want taxpayers to carry the burden of what he called a "less than transparent budget."

"Property appraisals in Southlake are pretty solid, so there's plenty of money,” Brandt argued. “Everybody lives with a constrained budget, and I don't understand why the Carroll school district should not have a constrained budget."

Voter turnout was low, but the district expects to hear plenty of voices when class sizes increase.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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