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Tyler County Booster - Local News

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WISD sets tax rate, calls for election

Tyler County Booster

by Valerie Reddell

Trustees for Woodville Independent School District voted Monday to set the tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year at $1.17, which triggered a call for a tax ratification election. Superintendent Glen Conner explained that the rate increase is necessary to replace the loss of $1,030,091 in revenue lost with the expiration of the Additional State Aid for Tax Refunding (ASATR) program. Cody Jarrott, Assistant Superintendent of Finance, walked board members through revenue estimates for the 2017-18 budget year during Monday's meeting. State funding, including all revenue based on weighted average daily attendance and the district's PEIMS data (Public Education Information Management System). PEIMS collects information on budget, attendance, staff, student demographics, program participation, course completion and discipline. Jarrott lowered the estimated collection rate on local property taxes from $165,000 to $130,000. "We're not seeing that level of collection," Jarrott said. He expects tuition revenue to remain at $65,000 for tuition charged to other districts who use Woodville's DAEP program. Income is likely to remain steady for athletic ticket sales and other co-curricular activities. All told, Jarrott's revenue forecast is $11,969,484 for 2017-18. Last year's adopted budget included $13,265,000 in expenses. WISD will leave eight positions unfilled for the next school, for a savings of $104,000. Another $6,700 will be carved off the training budget. "In simple terms, we are not getting $1.3 million in revenue. The budget proposal includes a half-milliondollar reduction in expenses from last year and we still lose $951,000," said board member Trey Allison. To avoid shrinking the fund balance by nearly a million dollars, Conner recommended increasing the maintenance and operations tax rate to $1.17. Under the state's complicated finance system, each penny in the tax rate above $1 are "golden pennies." In addition to the $52,272 in local property tax revenue the increase would generate, the state would kick in another $150,590 based on the first 6 cents assessed. The next 11 cents would generate another $12,927 in "silver pennies." The "golden pennies" represent a 288 percent return on investment while the "silver pennies" have an ROI of 24 percent — both substantially higher than the return provided through other investments. The tax increase would result in an average increase of $68.43 per year to residential property owners. The average home value in Woodville ISD is $64,751 and has a taxable value of $46,528. That would yield an annual tax bill of $597.89 for the coming year. Last year, the owner of that same property would have spent $529.46. It's amounts to $5.71 a month, Conner said. He also reminded trustees that homesteaders who are over 65 or who can claim disability or survivor benefits have "frozen" accounts, so they would not see an increase unless improvements are made to the homestead. With voter approval, Conner said the district can maintain services and programs at "close to previous levels", maintain student-teacher ratios, continue to support extra-curricular and co-curricular programs that patrons are accustomed to having; maintain and improve facilities and maintain salary and benefits for staff to attract and retain highly qualified staff. The board will have a budget workshop Thursday, set goals and make some contingency plans in the event voters reject the proposed tax rate. That meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the WISD board room. Trustees approved a motion to contract with the county clerk to hold the Aug. 26 election. Early voting in person will be from Aug. 9 to 22, during normal business hours. Conner said work will be getting underway in the next week or so to address canopy and rain gutter issues at all campuses. The project has a total budget of just over $45,000. Another maintenance project at the high school will address drainage problems and eliminate the pond that exists there year-round. Stormwater will be drained through an underground system to the street. "We have a lot of moisture issues at the high school," Conner explained. The project budget is about $21,000. Finally, work crews will replace exterior doors that have been in place since 1977 or 1978. Due to their age, there is no retrofit equipment available to meet ADA requirements. Equipment, installation and painting of the doors has a cost of $10,000. Work will begin within days.Conner said he will bring a restroom project to the board at a future meeting, after remaining details are worked out. It will be paid out of the fund balance.

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