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Aledo ISD taxpayers passed the Saturday, Aug. 28 tax ratification election (TRE) by a 1,834-241 total count which will lead to staff and teacher’s getting back their five percent pay cut from last year’s salary reductions and add $3.5 million in revenue to the district.
Reductions and staff cuts at Aledo ISD were made last school year due to a state funding formula implemented in 2006 that crippled school districts across the state, along with the fact that a Nov. 2009 TRE failed to pass.
Lawmakers, however, did put in place the taxpayers right to shift funds from interest and sinking to maintenance and operations funds with the passing of a TRE.
Aledo ISD superintendent Don Daniel thanked the community for its support in passing the TRE.
“First of all, I would really like to thank Craig Harbuck and his “Strategy for Success” committee for all the work they did to make this possible,” Daniel said. “I thank the community for making this possible, and it shows their support for the staff and teachers and the sacrifice they made by taking a volunteer five-percent pay cut.
“I think this shows the community appreciated that, and that they supported their efforts by turning out and overwhelmingly giving them that pay cut back.
“I am really pleased at the overwhelming support the community gave the district.”
A record 1,646 voters turned out for early voting, and the count solidified a “slam dunk” for passing the TRE as 1,521 voters voted for the TRE, with just 125 against. Saturday’s vote count was 313 “for” and 116 “against.”
At the June Aledo ISD regular trustees meeting, Daniel explained that although it appears taxes will be raised by elevating the M&O tax rate from $1.04 to $1.17 per $100 valuation, it is really just a shifting of funds.
“It will not increase the total tax rate and will not lengthen the bond payment schedules,” Daniel said. “We will pay the bonds off on the same schedule they are currently on. The TRE will reduce the I&S tax from $38.52 to $25.52, so it is reduced by the same 13 cents that is added to the M&O so that tax rate will stay the same.”
The same TRE that did not pass in November 2009 was passed this time due to several factors. One factor, explained “Strategy for Success” chairman Craig Harbuck, was voters were educated on the fact that taxes would not be raised. The TRE will now shift funds from interest and sinking (I&S) to maintenance and operations (M&O) to help with everyday expenses, including staff and teacher salaries.
The Strategy for Success group was a committee of local businessmen, politicians and concerned citizens who went out in the public to educate voters on the positives of passing the TRE.
“We took a two-pronged approach,” Harbuck said. “No.1 – early voting. We wanted to get the people out to vote early. With 1,646 early votes, we got our first goal accomplished. People understood, and they had a passion to get out and make it happen.
“And the second goal was communicating it. We had flyers, yard signs, people who made their own banners … and there you go. You put this whole grass roots effort of people on board, and it was their idea to make it happen.
“I want to offer my congratulations to the superintendent, our leadership of the board of trustees, and to all the kids and teachers of Aledo ISD. This is a big thumbs up – we are here for you.”
Aledo ISD trustee Bobby Rigues feels the landslide vote for the TRE was unprecedented for the district.
“This time around, there was a sense of community awareness in the air,” Rigues said. “It is my opinion that The Community News did an excellent job – week in and week out – of keeping it on the front. You can’t help but think that the community was slowly becoming more aware of the situation this time around.
“And then you mix in the proactive ingredient of the citizens committee led by Craig Harbuck, and you now have to say that the citizens of Aledo ISD responded with a for vote for the TRE, and that reflected a shared ownership in our district.”