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Home News-Telegram News SSISD trustees approve budget, tax rate for 2009-2010

SSISD trustees approve budget, tax rate for 2009-2010

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Sulphur Springs Independent School District trustees Monday approved a $1.4054 ad valorem tax tax rate as well as a $83,584,482 budget, probably the largest ever for the district.

However, that number is a bit deceiving as it includes the $48.4 million bond funding to construct a new middle school campus as well as a multipurpose facility at the high school.

The bond funding, labeled “capital projects” in the current budget, is among five categories under the “local funds dedicated to special purposes” portion of the budget, which accounts for $54,736,304 of that overall amount, according to figures prepared by SSISD Finance Director Mikki Eddins and presented to the board Monday night.

Of the tax rate of $1.4054 per $100 of property value, “bonded indebtedness” and debt service — both part of those special purposes funds — are paid for through the $0.3654 “interest and sinking” (I&S) portion of the tax rate. The remaining $1.04 of the tax rate goes to the local maintenance fund, which is the part of the budget used for daily operations such as salaries, materials and transportation.

“The I&S is the total rate of how much we owe on our bonded indebtedness,” Eddins explained, noting that the district opted  to make the first bond payment on the SSMS and multi-purpose building projects out of the 2008-2009 budget in order to qualify for Existing Debt Allotment funding from the state “starting in the new biennium,” which begins this year.

One board member observed the I&S rate was below $0.39, the rate district officials promised tax payers would be the most possible they would levy the debt tax rate to when asking voters to pass the bond this spring.

SSISD Superintendent Patsy Bolton noted that the $1.04 maintenance tax rate was the maximum allowable rate set by the state, unless districts sought voters to approve a higher rate.

Eddins said that while the bottom line on the budget for fiscal year 2009-2010 appears to be in the red, with overall spending outpacing revenue by $268,544, it’s not a true picture of district finances. Several of the funds deliberately have more expenditures than revenues for 2009-2010 due to large fund balances remaining from previous years in those categories. Auditors recommended the district reduce balances in those areas for better fiscal health.

The special purposes budget is expected to outpace revenues by $278,175, but Eddins noted that amount is expected to appear lower since it includes negative balances in the food service and worker’s compensation funds. Both the food service and worker’s compensation funds are again expected at the end of the current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31, to have a more than healthy remaining balance.  The worker’s comp fund is deliberately large so that payments can be made out of it, and food service funds will be utilized for upgrades in food service equipment at various campuses.

The district expects to end fiscal year 2008-2009 with $350,000 left over in the food service fund. During FY 2009-10, the district expects to collect $2.1 million in food service revenues while spending $2.12 million in the food service department. That would still leave $341,715 in the food service fund when FY 09-10 ends on Aug. 31, 2010.

Similarly, the district will add $59,000 to the worker’s compensation fund but estimates spending $328,890. The $269,890 in additional funding will be pulled from the $750,000 left over at the end of FY 08-09. That still leaves $480,110 in the fund when FY 09-10 ends.

The revenue and expenditure columns in two categories under the “special purposes” budget, capital projects and scholarship, are expected to “cancel each other out.” That is the district expects to spend only the $6,000 allocated for scholarships and the $48,445 million allocated for capital projects (the two newest bond projects). The district expects to take in $3.841 million for existing debt service while spending $3.84 million, leaving a total of $539 in the current budget.

The rest of the budget goes for all other district operations and costs.

The largest of those costs is designated for the general operating budget, which is the day to day operations of the district, the largest chunk of which goes toward teacher and staff salaries. Incidentally, the general operating fund is the only one in this portion of the budget expected to bring in more revenues than expenditures. General operating is expected to earn an estimated $28.07 million in revenues, but expenditures are estimated at only $26.3 million, leaving $2.03 million in the general fund to help offset other costs. Those funds will help offset deficits in transportation, technical center, co-curricular and technology funds, leaving only $9,092 in revenues raised during FY 09-10. But not to worry — the general operating fund still has $5 million which will carry over from FY 08-09.

SSISD Board trustee Don Sapaugh noted that while costs have gone up, so have revenues, even while enrollment remained virtually the same.

Eddins explained that in the last year revenues have increased, with local property values going up in general, which provided more local revenue, and state funding, which is based on weighted average daily attendance was about the same as it has been since about 2005.

Transportation is expected to cost the district $1.274 million, $946,815 more than revenues for the fund.

“We know it’s expensive to bus these kids to and from school every day, but it has to be done,” said SSISD Board President Clay Johnson.

Eddins noted that “we are going to get more from the state” to help pay for transportation.

Bolton also noted that the projected amount includes additions of buses to replace older school vehicles, part of a program started by the transportation department to have buses designated for out-of-town trips and rural routes, in-town routes, then as back up buses as they grow older. A certain number of new buses are purchased each year to begin the cycle and retire and sell older buses. The program was temporarily suspended last year when fuel costs had risen so high, with no new buses added.

The district expects to have to contribute $50,000 more than the $128,003 expected in revenues for the technical center. Co-curricular activities are expected to cost $810,684 this year; only $107,000 in revenues are expected in that fund. Technology is expected to cost the district $429,735, which is $323,230 more than the district expects to collect for technology.

Like the capital funds and scholarship funds in the “special purposes” portion of the budget, the needy children fund and enterprise  fundare only budgeted to spend as much as is anticipated to come in; $21,808 has been designated for needy children and $91,152 to enterprise.

Eddins noted that many of the maintenance and operations funds include not only the annual step pay designated for district employees but also $890 the legislature ruled in House Bill 346 must be paid out to each teacher. Overall, that amounts to $476,000.

“That’s based on a formula the state says she has to use depending on the number of days folks work,” Bolton explained.

Eddins noted that trustees in a prior work session asked that an additional $400 be given to paraprofessionals (secretaries and aides) and hourly workers who don’t fall within the group educators’ the state mandated benefit from the additional pay.

Overall, the district should end FY09-10 with $5,926,456 overall left in the general fund.




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