Cy-Fair ISD board to talk about local exemptions
With significant cuts in state education funding on the horizon, news that the Cy-Fair ISD school board would discuss the district's homestead exemptions during its June 13 meeting has a few homeowners wondering if an "optional" exemption that reduces their property taxes might change this year.
Trustee Larry Youngblood said he has asked the administration to discuss whether the exemption affects how much state funding the district receives.
"My expectation is, it won't be cut," Youngblood said.
The local homestead exemption must be considered each year for renewal, said district spokeswoman Kelli Durham.
"Each year the board must establish the homestead exemption level for qualified homeowners.
"State law provides for certain mandated homestead exemptions to be granted by ISDs, and the board has traditionally granted certain local optional homestead exemptions to its residents," Durham said.
State law lets homeowners subtract $15,000 from the appraised value of their permanent residence before local property taxes are applied. Homeowners 65 and older and the disabled get an additional $10,000 reduction.
CFISD also has allowed "optional" exemptions, which reduce taxable value of residences by an additional 20 percent and $15,000 more for homeowners age 65 and older and the disabled.
In 2009, the board rejected a proposal to cut the optional exemption in half and increase tax revenue. Since then, most trustees have said publicly they would continue the tax relief for homeowners.
With the optional exemption in place, the taxable value of a home that appraises for $160,000 in CFISD is $116,000. For homeowners 65 and older or the disabled, taxable value for the same home is $91,000. Tax savings to the owner, based on the 2010 rate, is $400 and $600, respectively.
Youngblood said reducing the exemption last year would have sent any new tax revenue the district realized to the state. If cuts in state funding are severe enough this year, it's possible that new revenue would remain in the district's coffers instead, he said.
That's what he wants to explore further, Youngblood said. Based on the most recent estimates of how the state budget cuts in education funding will be allocated statewide, he doubts the district would benefit by reducing the optional exemption.
Jonathan Sykes, a Cy-Fair resident since 1989 who spoke to preserve the tax break when it was discussed in 2009, said he is again willing to offer ideas to help the district meet its needs without raising taxes.
"What they really need to do is think outside the box," Sykes said.
In preliminary budget planning, district administrators have calculated a $60 million reduction in state funding for each of the coming two years. The proposal being considered in a special session of the Texas Legislature puts the cuts to the CFISD around $41.3 million in 2011-12 and $17.5 million in 2012-13.
The board's regular meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday, June 13, in the Instructional Support Center, 10300 Jones Road. Meetings can be viewed live on CFTV over the internet at www.cfisd.net; the videos are available on the Website the next day.
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