“Penny Swap” could mean $23 million boost for Fort Worth schools

Voter approval of shifting a penny from one tax rate to another could result in a $23 million boost for Fort Worth schools this year, according to district officials.

The “penny swap” tax rate authorization is the second question of the district’s November referendum. The district is also asking voters to approve borrowing $750 million to build two schools and make improvements at others.

District officials want to shift two cents from the principle and interest portion of the tax rate to maintenance and operation. The overall tax rate would remain at $1.352 per $100 of assessed value.

“Our chief financial officer, who is extremely conservative, feels that with the valuation increase in local property, that will be able to continue to pay off the principal and interest on existing debt,” said Clint Bond, director of external and emergency communications for FWISD.

If the swap passes, the district expects to collect an additional $230 million over the next 10 years. The annual tax revenue breaks down to $6 million per year from the “penny swap” along with an additional $17 million from the state.

This brings the total to $23 million per year.

“If you make an effort to do something that doesn’t raise the tax rate, which ours doesn’t, then the state says we will reward you by giving you these additional funds with which you can use in the things that you want to use them in,” Bond said.

The additional money will help pay for projects that fall outside of bond money. More than $200 million maintenance projects were left out of the 2013 bond program. This includes replacing pipes, wires, lights and security cameras.

The last day to register to vote on the bond proposal is Oct. 10, with early voting running from Oct. 23 through Nov. 3.