SSISD trustees approve 9 cent tax rate decrease
From Staff Reports

Aug. 29, 2006 -- Sulphur Springs Independent School District trustees approved a big boost in spending for the coming school year Monday night, but they're not doing anything taxpayers haven't already approved.

On the surface, the $40.6 million budget approved by the school board looks like a huge hike from the 2005-2006 spending plan agreed upon one year ago.

However, this year's budget includes one big difference: $10.175 million in construction money for new classrooms and facilities at Sulphur Springs High School and Early Childhood Learning Center, money approved in a bond election by voters one year ago.

The district also adopted an "unbalanced budget" for fiscal year 2006-2007.

"We are adopting an unbalanced budget due to one-time projects we may have within the next year, not due to salaries or anything else," said District Finance Director Miki Eddins.

The board also set the tax rate at $1.41196 per $100 property value, with $1.304035 going to the local maintenance fund and $0.107926 going toward debt service, bonded indebtedness, interest and sinking funds. That's about 9 cents less than in fiscal year 2005-2006. It would save the owner of a $100,000 home about $90 a year, although changes in property values could eat into that savings.

The school board also amended the FY 05-06 budget Monday night, with overall revenues totaling $28,997,943 and expenses totaling $28,109,272.

The general operating budget each year is designated to general operating funds or day to day operations costs, with the largest chunk going toward salaries and teacher benefits. This year, revenues for the general operating budget are projected at $26.38 million, with expenditures at $24. 347, leaving just over $2 million left in that fund at the end of FY 06-07. This figure includes a $1,000 pay increase approved for teachers, according to trustees.

That surplus is expected to help offset all but $102,508 of anticipated shortfalls in other budget categories. Most of that deficit funding falls in the transportation budget ($322,847 in revenue versus $1.124 million in costs), co-curricular ($103,200 in revenue compared to $1.074 million in expenses) and technology ($120,000 coming in, $419,853 going out).

Local funds dedicated to special purposes such as food service, capital projects and worker's compensation, are also expected to run at a slight deficit. While debt service should actually bring in about $104,000 more than is paid out, food services are expected to be in the red $140,000 and worker's comp at a $106,170 shortfall.

Despite the various shortfalls, the school district should end the year in good shape. The estimated fund balance at the beginning of the year should be $5.08 million, and when the dust clears at the end of the coming budget year, the fund balance should still be a healthy $4.8 million.

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