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'Be a part of the solution'

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One of the reasons cited by Texas colonists in their revolt against the Mexican government was that there was no provision for public education of the youth of Texas. Once Texas achieved its independence, the newly formed republic found that funding such education was a daunting task. The ensuing years saw various attempts to establish a structure by which public school funding could be both sustainable and sufficient without overburdening taxpayers. When Texas became a state in 1845, the effort to establish a well-funded public education system continued. And still today, finding that balance between funding public education and equitable taxation is a challenge. Through the years, the tax code and laws governing it have been an ever-evolving process. In this evolution, taxing entities like independent school districts have had to adapt and alter their budgets due to the consequences of new laws as they are passed. Every year, every taxing entity has had to review and consider the options available on how taxes are collected.

One such option that comes to light after the recent passage of the additional state mandated increase from $25K to $40K reduction in property value on Homestead Exemptions, is the Local Optional Homestead Exemption (LOHE). The addition of this mandatory reduction passed in May, renders the thirty-year-old LOHE impractical to keep in place. The LOHE was passed in 1992 to give taxing entities like independent school districts the ability to lessen the burden on home owning tax payers. When the LOHE was introduced back then, almost all school districts in Texas adopted it in some form. Over the past thirty years we have seen school districts opt out of the LOHE because of budget constraints. Every surrounding school district around Navasota ISD has opted out. We are one of the few districts that have held on to it at its highest level, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. However, with new $40K mandatory reduction in property value, we can no longer allow the LOHE. Having both exemptions is just not feasible any longer. The good news for taxpayers is they will not feel the full impact of eliminating the LOHE because of the newly passed $40K legislation.

A school board has two primary functions that we must do, hire a superintendent and pass a budget. We’ve achieved at hiring a fantastic superintendent in Dr. Musick. We also have a fiduciary responsibility to pass not just a budget but a balanced budget. In the wake of stifling inflation, eliminating the LOHE at this time while adding the mandatory $40K property value reduction will both give us the ability to help balance our budget and help local taxpayers a bit. The largest expense on our budget is function code 11, instruction. This is where we pay our teachers and teachers need and deserve everything we can do for them. Eliminating the LOHE is one step closer to that.

186 years ago, Texans understood the importance and value of an educated population. It’s as true today. BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION.

The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Greg Mock. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.

Greg Mock is a Navasota Alumni, Navasota High School class of 1984, and the President for the Navasota ISD School Board.