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Plano ISD Considers Property Tax Hike Election

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PLANO (CBS 11 NEWS) - Plano residents may be looking at a property tax election this fall.  The Plano ISD wants a tax hike that so high, it would automatically trigger an election.

“We made significant cuts in the last biennium, and so we’re at the point we need to cover a $20 million deficit,” Superintendent Richard Matkin tells CBS 11 News.

He says this year’s state legislature did not fully restore money earmarked for Plano schools, so the district is at a crossroads: either boost taxes or risk increased class sizes, teacher layoffs, and even cuts to extracurricular activities…and he’s not ruling out football.

“Athletics in general, you’re going to have to look at your programs. Again, that’s middle school through high school. You have to look at fine arts…middle school through high school.”

He adds all district principals have begun looking for places to cut, should a tax hike not happen.

“We’re looking at all types of programs that we have. We’re currently working with our principals to identify where those cuts would come.”

The district proposes a complicated shifting of taxes. Boosting the maintenance and operating rate by 13 cents per every 100 dollars of assessed valuation, but lowering the debt service rate 5 cents, leaving the overall proposed hike at 8-cents.

Matkin says the owner of a $250,000 home—the average in Plano—could expect to pay somewhere in the vicinity of $187 more a year.

Responses from property owners in Plano were mixed.

“Surprisingly, I’m for it,” says Kevin Afkami, who doesn’t live in Plano or have children attending school there, but who owns commercial property that is taxed. Still, he supports the proposal.  “I feel like teachers are not getting paid what they deserve so 8-cents on a 100-dollar valuation I don’t think is going to kill anybody.”

Soccer legend and Plano resident Gordon Jago believes quality education makes for better young people. “I’m for it. Because all my life I’ve been involved with youngsters…with professional soccer and seeing youngsters develop. And without a doubt education is the major factor for me with any child.”

Jago adds, “ If we can give the children of Plano the best education possible, and it means I have to pay a little bit more money on my taxes–I’d personally be only too pleased to do that.”

But Plano retiree Dee Thornton says it’ll hurt people on fixed incomes. “Now if they raise taxes on us, it’s going to make it really difficult, with the economy the way it is already. It’s difficult.”

The school board will have a public hearing August 20th to decide whether to put the issue on the November ballot.

Superintendent Matkin claims that even with the proposed tax hike that Plano will still have the second lowest school property tax rate in Collin County.