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Home News-Telegram News SSISD lowers tax rate slightly; gives staff pay raise

SSISD lowers tax rate slightly; gives staff pay raise

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While Sulphur Springs Independent School District’s tax rate will be one cent less per $100 property value  during the 2014-15 fiscal school year, appraisal rates throughout the district are up, which should not only balance out revenues but generate a little bit of surplus.

SSISD trustees Monday night approved a $1.35048 per $100 property value ad valorem tax rate for fiscal year 2014-15, with $1.04 designated to the local maintenance and operations fund which covers salaries and all of the day-to-day operating expenses. The remaining $0.31048 will go to debt service, bonded indebtedness, interest and sinking funds (often referred to as the I&S). During the FY 2013-14, which ends Aug. 31, taxpayers paid a penny more in I&S tax.

The general fund, food service and debt service budgets presented  Monday night by SSISD District Business Manager Sherry McGraw were also approved unanimously by trustees. When all expected funds are figured in the two main portions of the budget — the general fund  and the local funds dedicated to special purposes — the district expects to receive $40.58 million in revenues and to spend $40.49 million in FY 2014-15.

Overall, SSISD is expected to receive $32.38 million in the general fund revenues and spend about $32.36 million. That’s up from fiscal year 2013-14, when revenues were projected at $31 million and spending at $30.9 million.

According to SSISD Superintendent Michael Lamb, that includes a 3 percent pay increase for teachers and a raise for most other district employees as well.

The first portion of the budget, the general fund, is comprised of seven main funds or functions — the general operating, needy children fund, transportation, technical center, co-curricular, instructional materials allotment (formerly textbooks) and enterprise funds.

The general operating fund covers all of the day-to-day expenses including salaries. The district expects to receive $31.69 million in general operating revenues and budgeted $30.089 million, which should leave a $1.6 million surplus in the general operating budget. 

That surplus will help offset other funds in the general fund budget which don’t fully fund themselves — specifically the transportation, technical center and co-curricular activities funds.

Transportation is expected to cost $1.3 million, about $948,400 more than the district expects to take in. Technical center expenses are expected to be $43,000, which is $21,500 more than district revenues. Co-curricular expenses are expected to cost about $615,600 more than the $133,500 in expected revenues.

The district has budgeted only as much as it expects to receive in the needy children ($24,369), IMA ($25,000) and enterprise ($115,293) funds.

That should leave a surplus of $19,021 in the 2014-15 FY general fund, which would be added to the $19 million general fund balance carried over from previous years that the district can use for any unanticipated expenses or one-time project funding during the year, according to McGraw.

The second part of the overall budget, the “local funds dedicated to special purposes” portion, is where the I&S can be found; it includes includes food service, debt service, capital projects, worker’s compensation and scholarship funds. The special purposes fund is expected to finish with $89,069 surplus, receiving $8.199 million in revenues and spending $8.13 million.

This part of the budget can be a bit misleading. Only one of the five funds or functions in the local special purposes fund appears to have an expected surplus at the end of FY 2014-15, two cancel themselves out and two appear to finish in the red.

The district has budgeted $4.214 million for debt service (things like bond payments) expenses out of the $4.568 in revenue for the fund, leaving a surplus.

The district only plans to spend the amount expected in revenues for capital projects ($1.26 million) and scholarship funds ($11,832).

Expenses in food service and worker’s comp funds, however, appear to outpace revenues; that is intentional. Those funds are so healthy, with enough surplus from previous years, that auditors recommend the district spend some of those surplus funds.

For instance, the district expects to receive $2.28 million in revenues for food service and $77,000 for the worker’s comp, but will spend roughly $2.44 million on food service and $204,800 for workers comp.

The food service expenses include budgeted projects and improvements, things like replacing aging kitchen equipment. That excess $156,263 spent on those repairs and projects will come from the $860,000 carried over from previous years in the food service fund. That’s put the overall food service fund balance at the end of FY 2014-15 at about $703,7000.

The workers comp fund grew significantly when the district was self-funded. The district was once self-funded for worker’s compensation that’s changed. Those excess funds remaining are what was left from self-funding. So in essence, the district this year will use $127,817 of the $642,000 left over from previous years to make up the difference,

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