Rusk County school board weighs rate for 2018-19

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The Rusk County School Board meets Wednesday, poised to vote on the year’s dispensation of funds raised from the local school equalization tax in addition to the possible adoption of a 2.6-cent rate for the coming year.

The group last met Aug. 7 and will gather at 1 p.m. Aug. 22 in the county courtroom on the first floor of the Rusk County Courthouse in Henderson.

The equalization tax was adopted by voters in 1940. For 2018-2019, the effective tax rate – the amount necessary to raise the same funds as the prior year – will cost Rusk County taxpayers 2.6437 cents per $100 valuation if adopted next week. A person with a $100,000 home would pay about $26.44 into the countywide school tax coffers.

Over the course of a decade, the tax collects almost $10 million. Each year, revenues are allocated to the 13 schools districts operating in Rusk County. Some are located wholly-within the county while some, like Kilgore ISD, cross the county line.

A rare tax in Texas, it frustrates some Kilgore residents who live in Rusk County and pay the equalization tax in addition to the tax levied by Kilgore ISD. District taxpayers who live in Gregg County do not pay the equalization tax.

Earlier this year, a Kilgore resident who lives in Rusk County, Dale Hedrick, traveled to Austin to give testimony before the Texas Commission on Public School finance. Hedrick has spent many hours researching the school equalization tax and shedding light on what he says is a disproportionate tax burden on those taxpayers who are subject to it, paying into two school funds.

In addition to reviewing minutes from the Aug. 7 meeting, the Rusk County trustees are scheduled to welcome a new board member to the group – John M. Carter, tapped to represent Precinct 2 on the school board.

Other items on Wednesday’s agenda include:

• Discussion and a vote to dispense equalization monies to Rusk County schools;

• Discussion and possible adoption of the 2018-2019 Rusk County-wide School Budget;

• Acceptance of the total effective and rollback tax rate calculations for Rusk County’s 2018 County-wide School Tax prepared by the Rusk County Tax Assessor/Collector’s office;

• Discussion and possible approval of the effective tax rate of 0.026437/$100 property valuation for the 2018 Equalization Tax.

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