Commerce – The first of two town hall meetings by the Commerce ISD to address its upcoming tax ratification election is in the books.
Monday night at the Norris Community Center, Superintendent Blake Cooper broke down the district's financial situation. He focused largely on the lack of funding from the state, combined with increased expenditures.
"There are two ways we can get money for schools: More students, and tax revenue," said Cooper.
CISD is asking voters to approve a 13 cent tax rate hike to cover a nearly $700,000 budget shortfall. According to Cooper, if the election fails, the district will be forced to reduce staff by 15 people, therefore reducing the quality of education.
City Councilman Tony Henry says that by voting in favor of the increased tax rate, residents will in turn make the district more appealing to families shopping for a school.
"To get the enrollment up, if they have kids they're going to look at quality of education first," Henry said. "So as we look at this as citizens, we need to take that into consideration."
Some citizens in attendance expressed their displeasure with the appraisal district, indicating their cost of living continues to increase. However, citizens seemed to be appreciative of the presentation and left with a better understanding of CISD finance.
"It's enlightened us as to where our money is going and what's taking place," said Commerce citizen Billy Reed. "I've already been sold on the fact that, yes, we do need this [13 cent tax rate increase]. Quality education is something we need everyplace."
If approved on August 14, it would mean a $130 annual tax increase on a $100,000 home or $10.83 per month. Homeowners 65 years or older will not be affected.
Tuesday's final town hall meeting will be held at 7 p.m., at the Commerce High School cafetorium. Early voting begins tomorrow at the CISD Administration Building.
A power point presentation of Superintendent Cooper's financial breakdown is availalbe at www.commerceisd.org.