The Frankfort Independent Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a property tax rate that is about 2.5% higher than last year's rate.
All board members voted in favor of the tax rate of 99 cents per $100 of assessed property value, both real and personal, during a board meeting Monday at Frankfort High School. The rate for last year was 96.5 cents.
The board held a public hearing prior to the meeting and no one signed up to make comments about the tax rate.
Superintendent Houston Barber said that while it is difficult to increase taxes on citizens, the higher tax rate is needed to provide the school district’s services. The new tax rate is projected to bring in about $2.45 million, which is about 10% more than last year thanks to growth in the tax base.
“We understand and recognize the challenges that our families in this community face. Being a community member and living in this community, we want to do what is best for this community and that includes giving a world-class education to our students,” Barber said.
He said the school district provides opportunities for students both in and out of the classroom, including college-level courses in postsecondary and technical school training. He said the district’s “success speaks for itself.”
Barber said that Frankfort Independent is unique in the state in that almost 75%, or about $770 million, of the property within the district is tax-exempt.
Board Chair Jina Greathouse said before the vote that some board members previously discussed the idea of a raise for school district employees. She said the tax increase could make that idea a reality in the future and allow the district to offer more competitive pay.
“I don’t think there could be any better time to do that. It's been a rough couple of years for teachers and public education in general,” Greathouse said. “Teachers have become political scapegoats and their retirement program has been under attack. So I think the timing is good to do what we can and show our own faith and confidence in their service.”
The board also approved a bid of $132,936 for a boiler replacement project at Frankfort High School. Craig Aossey of G. Scott and Associates Architects, told the board that the bid was about $20,000 higher than an initial estimate because of equipment needed, including a crane, to get the replacement boiler into the high school. The bid winner was Whitehead-Hancock Heating, Plumbing and Cooling.