Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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June 19, 2014

Brownsboro ISD discusses homestead exemptions

Athens — A spill-over crowd at an early morning Brownsboro Independent School District board meeting on Wednesday learned there will be no decrease in the homestead tax exemption. But a tax increase could come in another form.

An estimated audience of more than 200 came to see the trustees discuss a possible decrease in the homestead exemption in order to meet budgetary needs. Brownsboro Superintendent Chris Moran quickly dispelled their fears.

“In our budget discussion, there were questions raised about the local option homestead exemption,” Moran said. “Obviously this is a very hot topic. So this morning the administration intends to recommend to the board to leave the 20 percent where it is, and not reduce it in any way for any reason.”

Moran said the early morning meeting was scheduled in order to conform to the schedules of the trustees.

“I want to apologize to our community  from my office, that we scheduled a 7 a.m. meeting on a topic that is controversial,” Moran said. “I accept the burden for that. We certainly want to do things in the open.”

 According to Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, a homestead owner may receive a $15,000 homestead exemption deducted from the home's value for the payment of school taxes.

At age 65, individuals or the disabled may receive an additional $10,000 for their homestead exemption for school taxes.

In addition, the school district may offer an exemption of up to 20 percent of a home's value.

Financial advisor Jonathan Lundmark explained why raising the tax on debt service would be more effective than in decreasing the homestead extension.

Lundmark said the district has an estimated shortfall in the debt service fund which totals $500,000. If the district increases the property tax rate allocated to debt service from 29 cents to 35 cents per $100 valuation, it would raise an estimated $300,000, cutting the shortfall to $200,000.

In addition, the state would give the school district an additional $200,000, which would cover the remainder of the shortfall.

A decrease in the homestead exemption would not lead to an increase in funding from the state, Lundmark said.

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