When Katy voters go to the polls for the upcoming Nov. 8 midterm elections, they will decide the fate of a tax rate election proposing a fiscal year 2022-23 property tax rate that will see residents pay more on their property tax bill.
The rate—$1.3517 per $100 valuation—approved by the Katy ISD board of trustees Aug. 22—would match that of the FY 2021-22 tax rate. However, because of rising property values and a growing tax base, the rate would result in an additional $150 in school district property taxes annually on property owners’ tax bills if the election is approved, district officials said.
Besides looking to fill an $18 million budget shortfall, KISD is looking to use the tax rate election to increase teacher and staff compensation.
During its Sept. 26 meeting, the Katy ISD board of trustees approved pay increases for all district employees, contingent on the approval of the tax rate election.
The board voted 6-1 to approve a 4% pay raise at the midpoint for all Katy ISD employees, with 3% of the raise distributed across all remaining paychecks for the 2022-23 school year, according to the district’s agenda documents. Board Trustee Victor Perez voted against the motion.
With the approval, the district would also restructure the compensation plan for teachers, instructional coaches, instructional coordinators and classroom tech designers, equalizing it for all employees in that pay grade, said Brian Schuss, Katy ISD chief human resources officer, during the meeting.
“Equalizing that would—if the TRE [tax ratification election] passes—move everyone to the teacher hiring scale,” he said. “Everyone in that pay grade would be paid the same based on years of experience.”
District officials said, should a tax rate election pass on Nov. 8—which would bring in an additional roughly $23.6 million for KISD—starting teacher salaries would go from $60,700 to $63,560.
During a period when school districts nationwide face teacher shortages, focusing on retaining teachers and bringing in talented staff are at the core of why KISD is looking to increase compensation, KISD Superintendent Ken Gregorski said during an Oct. 6 Katy Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.
“That would push us up to be one of the highest salaries in the Houston area,” Gregorski said.
Additionally, with the board’s approval, should the tax rate election pass, KISD would add 10 additional police officer positions to its police force, which has 66 officers and five vacancies.
Perez voted against the compensation increases due to the recessionary and inflationary effects being experienced by residents.
“We have to be mindful of the community and the impact of a TRE on the community in terms of taxes,” Perez said. “I’m not in favor of granting across-the-board pay increases to everyone. I don’t think everyone should be paying higher taxes in order to fund higher salaries for salaried administrative personnel.”