Dallas Will Not Get Opportunity for DISD Property Tax Vote

Dallas ISD trustees failed Thursday to get a supermajority to agree to place a 13-cents property tax increase on the November ballot. (Photo by Erik Hersman/Flickr)

Dallas ISD trustees failed Thursday to get a supermajority to agree to place a 13-cents property tax increase on the November ballot. (Photo by Erik Hersman/Flickr)

Since I write for a real estate publication, I get the, uh, benefit of hearing a lot about property taxes and how people feel about them.

It’s because of that I can feel pretty confident when I say that this may not have been the year to try a 13-cent property tax increase, even if Dallas ISD has one of the lowest rates in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Now, my reasons for saying that are completely different than some of the trustees who voted against the tax last night, and which you can read about here, here and here. But for now, let me say this: We cannot fund pre-K expansion and two years of college on eight campuses without some kind of investment. I still absolutely think that every single thing on the original measure was important and worthy of the extra taxation, and if I had been allowed, I would’ve voted for all three measures.

But my reasons for saying this was a bad time are more logistical than philosophical. I kind of had this sinking feeling in the part of my stomach usually reserved for guacamole that the measure wouldn’t pass the second the district revealed that the 13-cent tax could not be broken up ala carte style as originally proposed. But I had also had a lot of input via my inbox and comments on my previous post that led me to believe that people are super peeved about paying more (I know, “duh”). I do think that voters deserved to have the chance to make this decision, and I’m smart enough to know that my busy inbox is no indicator of an election’s success – after all, my inbox was pretty interesting during the bond election, too, and that sucker was passed with 60 percent of the vote.

What’s interesting is that my inbox actually started hurting more after the Dallas County commissioners voted themselves a raise. While I have no science to back this up, the comments became more “my taxes are too much period, yes I know how my total tax bill is calculated, yes I know these are worthy, but dude something’s got to give,” and less, “the school district wastes money anyway” (that last one is not so true, by the way).

But all of this is to say that the hurdle of re-educating everyone on the new tax proposal before November, of overcoming those objections, was an arduous task. And it started last night with the board of trustees – who could not reach the supermajority needed to get the measure on the ballot. There were three trustees already teed up to vote against the proposal. Lew Blackburn’s vote against it, apparently, was because he wasn’t satisfied with some of the answers he was getting from district staff.

My hope is that district staff and amenable trustees don’t let this idea go away but take the year or so to come up with a new plan. I disagree with trustee Lew Blackburn’s (who curiously was forgainst the idea) proposal last night that the election should be in May. I say make it next November, when people have more reasons to vote and turnout is less abysmal. Maybe it’s the Pollyanna in me that hasn’t been beaten into submission yet, but I’d like to think that with more time, the district could regroup and educate voters to even greater success. 

Some reaction from last night:

One Comment

  • mm

    It is a bad year, but I agree that all those measures, most vitally pre-K programs, would have given DISD a huge boost, which would in turn have boosted our real estate market. But July 7 blew open the whole police pay issue. And I do think Dallas police, particularly newcomers, deserve to be better paid.

    And then those 3 Dallas County Commissioners voted THEMSELVES a pay raise right before my very eyes. (As I wrote, I was against ANY raise, for this very reason, but would have preferred to see rank and file employees get one over the elected officials.) I know that’s Dallas County, but it absolutely stunk up the whole pot and left taxpayers with a bad taste. I only hope they remember that bad taste when they go to the polls.