The Burnet Consolidated Independent School District must ask voters to head to the polls in October so the district can send the state of Texas an estimated $4 million recapture payment as already required by law.
The Attendance Credit Election, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 12, is part of Texas House Bill 3, which passed during the 2019 legislative session. It’s not related to the 2021 bond election.
Voting takes place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the BCISD Central Office, 208 E. Brier St. in Burnet. Early voting is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, Sept. 27-Oct. 8, also at the Central Office.
If approved by voters, nothing changes for the district or taxpayers. Passage doesn’t impact the BCISD property tax or budget.
However, if it’s defeated, the district could lose some commercial property value or face consolidation with one or more other school districts.
“No one is happy with sending $4 million of local property taxes to other school districts, and it doesn’t make sense that we are required to have an election to approve the same process that we have used previously to make recapture payments,” said BCISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett. “That said, this is a statutory hoop we have to jump through, and the consequences for not passing this election would be detrimental to the long-term financial well-being of the district.”
The Attendance Credit Election is a one-time event, part of the Texas recapture system first established in 1993. The state set up recapture, commonly called the Robin Hood law, which takes locally generated tax dollars from property-rich districts and shares them with districts that have lower property wealth.
A district’s wealth is based on property values.
BCISD is consider property wealthy. As such, the district’s property taxes are subject to recapture. The district will pay an estimated $4 million to the state for the 2021-22 fiscal year under the recapture system.
BCISD, along with all other Texas public school districts, makes required recapture payments using a method called Purchasing Attendance Credits. It is used universally as it is the most cost effective.
If approved, voters are simply allowing the district to continue making the state-mandated recapture payments through attendance credits, just as it has since recapture began.
“A ‘yes’ vote does not change the total tax rate or impact what a taxpayer pays and also does not change the amount of state revenue Burnet CISD receives,” according to a district statement.
If the measure failed, BCISD would be required to reduce its property tax wealth. According to the district statement, the Texas Education Agency could use two ways to accomplish this:
permanent detachment of Burnet CISD commercial property to another school district;
or consolidation between Burnet CISD and one or more school districts.
Along with those consequences, if the measure fails, the district could be forced to increase the interest and sinking portion of the property tax rate.
The language on the ballot will be: “Authorizing the Board of Trustees of the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District to purchase attendance credit from the State with local tax revenue.”