The rapid rise in property values is prompting some residents to look more critically at upcoming school bond elections.
The Northwest school district has a $399 million bond package on the May 6 ballot, while Carroll schools has a proposal for $208 million in bonds.
Some Northwest residents are afraid the cost of the bond could put a burden on taxpayers.
“Where do you come up with those extra hundreds of dollars?” asked Cherie Martin, a Fort Worth resident in the Northwest school district.
Martin, a retired teacher, knows that new schools are needed in the rapidly growing Northwest district, but some of her neighbors are struggling to keep their homes in the wake of a nearly 30 percent gain in market values and almost 20 percent boost in taxable values in the last three years.
The average market value in Northwest went from just under $184,000 in September 2013 to almost $235,000 three years later, according to reports from the Tarrant Appraisal District. For Carroll, the average values went from just under $499,000 to more than $642,000 in the same three-year span.
For the Northwest bond, which includes three new elementary schools and expansions of eight other campuses, the increase to the tax rate if the measure is approved would be 3.75 cents, taking the total rate from $1.4525 to $1.49. The estimated tax impact for a home valued at $250,000 would be an extra $84 a year.
Martin said the problem is that a home valued at $250,000 a few years ago now may be worth over $300,000.
A homeowner who paid annual school taxes of about $3,268 three years ago would pay almost $4,100, if the bond passes.
Emily Conklin, director of communications, said the district’s tax rate is well below the $1.54 state maximum allowed without voter approval.
If the bond were to be defeated, more portable buildings would be brought in to deal with population growth and timelines would be slowed for improving aging facilities and updating programs and technology, Conklin said. The district is adding about 1,200 students a year.
For more information on the Northwest bond proposal, go to nisdtxbond.org.
Carroll seeks more classrooms
In the Carroll school bond proposal, which would construct additional classrooms at all five elementary campuses, renovate aging facilities and build a new performing arts center for band and choir, the tax rate would remain the same at $1.39 for both daily operations and bond payments.
School district officials are able to propose a $208 million bond package without a tax increase because of the huge growth in property values. An increase in appraisals does not have a big impact on daily operations because Texas sets the amount districts receive per pupil and because property-wealthy Carroll sends funds back to the state for recapture.
Districts get to keep all funds raised by bonds, including big boosts to property values.
Scott Wrehe, Carroll’s assistant superintendent for financial services, said Carroll currently has the fifth lowest tax rate out of 21 school districts in Tarrant County and the school board has approved tax reductions the last two years.
For the average Carroll taxpayer with a home valued at $500,000 three years ago that now has a taxable value (less than market value) of $600,000, the bill has gone from $6,650 to almost $8,000.
Wrehe said that if voters turn down the bond proposal, the tax rate could drop by 6 to 8 cents. For that $600,000 homeowner, that translates to about $350 to $450 a year less.
Go to carrollbudget.com for more on the bond package.