Early voting in the Nov. 3 General Election began Tuesday, with ballots for Needville voters including two school board seats and a Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election (VATRE).

Incumbent Kim Janke is opposed by Josh Dale for Position 6, and Board President Chris Janicek is unopposed for Position 7.

VATRE won’t raise tax rate

Needville ISD trustees approved the VATRE at their August board meeting, afterAssistant Superintendent of Finance Ben Pape explained it will provide $726,476 or more annually in funding for the district without raising the tax rate.

In addition, he said, the state will match that amount up to more than $400,000, resulting in $1.1million for educating Needville ISD students – all without costing taxpayers any additional money.

Superintendent Curtis Rhodes said the funds can be used wherever needed, including student programs, technology, buses, staff salaries, the improvement of existing facilities to accommodate the district’s continued growth, and much more.

“This is especially good for NISD with the possibility of state funding reductions for public schools on the horizon,” Rhodes said. “If approved, we will receive the funds this school year.”

Wording on ballot confusing

Rhodes said the wording on the ballot is a little unclear and may lead some voters to think the school district is raising their taxes even though it is not.

“In fact,” he said, “trustees actually lowered the tax rate very slightly in August, with$0.003261 of a penny decrease.”

The ballot says ratifying the NISD ad valorem tax rate of 1.4630 will result in an increase of 6.08 percent in maintenance and operations tax revenue for the district.

Rhodes said the wording may lead some people to think it refers to a 6.08 percent tax increase, which is not the case.

Instead, he said, that number represents an increase inthe Fort Bend County Central Appraisal District’s appraised value of NISD’s tax base.

“We do not control the CAD,” Rhodes said. “The bottom line is that the VATRE is a great opportunity for Needville ISD to access additional funds from the state without costing taxpayers a cent, but it requires voter approval.

“An additional $1.1 million each year will truly help our school community,” he added, “so of course we encourage everybody to vote yes for the VATRE.”

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