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PSJA ISD School Board reduces taxes for 2020-21 school year

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 The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to decrease the tax rate for the 2020-2021 school year by 1/2 cent during a board meeting on Monday, Sept. 14.  

“I’m extremely proud of our team for successfully balancing the budget in line with our goals,” said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo. “Going into the budgeting process, we aimed to preserve quality of instruction and services, retain and recruit quality staff, and prioritize staff and student safety, and I believe we have accomplished that.”

The PSJA ISD school board approved the 1/2 cent reduction for an overall tax rate of $1.2675 per $100 valuation. The rate includes $1.0507 for the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) fund and $.2168 for the Interest and Sinking (I&S) fund. 

PSJA’s M&O fund is used for daily district operations, such as paying for salaries, utilities, supplies, insurance, equipment and contracted services, among other expenses. Teacher salaries, counselor salaries, principal salaries, property insurance, electricity and fuel are all examples of operating expenses. The District’s I&S fund, or debt service, is the district’s tax effort to assist with the repayment of bonds.

“The district’s tax rate has been declining over the last five years,” said PSJA Chief Financial Officer Janet Robles. “I would imagine most of our community would like to see our tax rate continue to decrease. The state funding system does not make it easy to drop the tax rate very much without losing state aid.” 

Through provisions of Texas Tax Code Section 26.08(a), the PSJA School Board was able set a higher M&O tax rate without an election for a one-year period following the disaster declaration for Hidalgo County issued by Governor Greg Abbott on June 27, 2019. The district has since expended funds to mitigate the effects caused by the severe storms earlier this summer.

“Our Superintendent and School Board have made it a priority to take care of the district staff in terms of compensation and benefits,” Robles said. “Our district has even continued to pay 100 percent of the employee share of health insurance and given raises consistently over the last 20 years.”