Residents of Petrolia ISD voted down a measure that would have increased school property taxes by 10 cents per $100 in value Monday.
Voters turned down the proposition 206-169. The defeat marks the fourth for the school district in as many years. Voters in Petrolia and the Charlie-Thornberry area came out in favor of the increase by slim margins. The measure passed in the Petrolia voting precinct 87-79 and in the Charlie precinct 29-24. Dean voters came out against the measure 103-53.
The district was asking for a tax increase of 13 cents per $100 in value to be added to its maintenance and operations rate, from $1.04 to $1.17. The district also has a debt service, or sinking and interest, rate of 21 cents per $100. If voters would have favored the increase, taxes in the district would have risen $1.38. With the ratification defeated, property owners in the district will pay $1.25.
As the district nears its payoff date on bonds used to construct Petrolia High School, the debt rate falls, accounting for a 3 cent decrease in the overall rate. School officials had hoped that the 3 cent decrease would help get the measure passed, pointing out that only 10 cents would be added to the overall tax burden.
Prior to the election, PISD Superintendent Derrith Welch said a vote in favor of the tax rate was necessary for the school’s finances to remain healthy. Petrolia ISD faces a budget deficit of $366,069 for the 2011-12 school year, further depleting the general fund after similar deficits in recent years and a five percent cut in state funding.
In May, Petrolia ISD took action in an effort to trim deficits. The district chose not to renew the contracts of several staff members, and did away with it’s junior high school, combining the sixth grade with Petrolia Elementary and placing seventh and eighth grade students in the senior high school building. Combining junior high age students into the two facilities saved the district $170,000 to $180,000 per year. The two moves combined saved about $300,000.