Luminant suit leaves questions for RISD, county budget planners

The “wild card” in budget plans for the Rockdale ISD and Milam County has been played as Luminant filed a lawsuit in 20th District Court, challenging the value placed on Sandow 5 by the Milam County Appraisal District.

It wasn’t unexpected. “ The same thing happened last year,” Dr. Howell Wright, Rockdale ISD superintendent, said.

The county and school district operate under radically different budgeting processes, since the school falls under complex, and sometimes opaque, state funding formulas.

County Judge Dave Barkemeyer said two weeks ago that a successful Luminant lawsuit could cost the county between $ 210,000 and $ 220,000 in anticipated revenue.

TWO YEARS—“It could be two years before this (lawsuit) is played out in the courts,” Dr. Wright said. “Obviously we’ve got to go ahead and set the tax rate. That will be an agenda item this month.”

No change in the district’s $1.2135 tax rate is planned for the fourth consecutive year.

In July, the MCAD appraised Sandow 5 at $764.7 million but the two sides are hundreds of millions of dollars apart.

“We are meeting with Texas Education Agency officials,” Dr. Wright said. “Obviously the many changes (in RISD’s industrial tax base) are affecting us.”

“We’re really no longer going to be considered a ‘wealthy’ school district,” he said.

BUDGET HEARING—Milam County commissioners will hold the last of three hearings on the proposed2012budgeta6p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7 in the county courthouse.

No tax increase was proposed in the new budget. Action on the budget is planned Sept. 12.

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