LISD cancels swim team program
Board members agreed to have Myers negotiate a new fee arrangement with the LYBA and bring it back before LISD trustees.
Polk County Enterprise, August 2007
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — Scheduling problems and unforeseen expenses prompted Livingston Independent School District trustees to call off plans to begin a high school swim team program during a special called meeting Thursday morning.
The cost of leasing the Matthews Street Pool more than tripled during the one-year planning phase of establishing the high school team, LISD officials said.
Livingston Aquatics President Ray Luna M.D. said the group had originally estimated they could lease the pool to the district for about $300 a month, but those estimates came before the group received utility bills for heating the pool through the winter months.
Based on the natural gas bills the group experienced last year, Luna said they would need to charge $1,000 a month rent for the pool.
Livingston Aquatics also wanted to reserve the 4 to 6 p.m. time slot for the ongoing water aerobics program, which would conflict with afterschool workouts for the swim team.
Assistant Superintendent Shelly Hullihen said holding practice after 6 p.m. would run too late and conflict with other school schedules.
Administrators hit another obstacle with launching the swim team since none of the current staff members had so far agreed to coach the team.
One of the district’s potential coaches of a youth swim team currently teaches at another district. Given his 20 years experience as a teacher, recruiting that particular coach would cost about $60,000, officials said.
LISD board president Bea Ellis said the resources are not in place to overcome the latest obstacles in establishing a high school swimming program.
“We need to take baby steps and find a way to get the money, schedule and coach,’ Ellis said. “We need to have a place to practice and teach.”
Appraisal District budget
Trustees raised a number of questions about the proposed budget for the Polk Central Appraisal District, which is more than $19,000 more than last year.
The appraisal district’s annual budget of $1,078,993 is divided among the entities in the county that assess ad valorem property taxes based on each entity’s percentage of the total levy, Chief Appraiser Carolyn Allen said.
Based on changes in values for the 2006 levy, Livingston ISD is now allocated 32.2 percent of the district’s expenses, which amounts to $324,924.
Board member Henry Ager asked Allen why Livingston’s $14,000 increase amounts to 65 to 70 percent of the district total budget increase.
Allen explained that the property tax law changes passed in 2005 forced all school districts to lower their tax rate, although not all by the same percentage.
LISD gained value during that time, and a couple of other district’s lost value and that left LISD with a greater share of the PCAD budget, Allen explained.
A lot of the property tax values in the northern end Polk County are based on oil and gas production, Allen said.
“What helps Livingston is growth around the lake. Everybody is moving in so the value is not in minerals, it’s in real estate,” Allen said.
Superintendent Darrell Myers said the increased appraisal district expenses are causing a growing burden since the revenues from property taxes are capped, but the expenses from the appraisal district continue to grow.
Allen explained the increases could get worse.
A recent audit at the Trinity County Appraisal District forced the chief appraiser there to hire additional staff and increases the budget by $200,000 and ordered the district to purchase new software.
“The only good thing is it may affect your I&S (interest and sinking) rate. It’s not going to help in day-to-day expenses,” Allen said.
“It hurts on the maintenance and operations side,” Myers said.
Trustees also questioned a $5,000 expense from the youth baseball association for maintaining the field used by the high school baseball team during Thursday’s meeting.
Board member Jeff Galloway Jeff Galloway said the association is paying $1,700 to a groundskeeping contractor to maintain its fields.
Trustee Brian Bounds pointed out amount seems disproportionate since the school district only uses one field and the batting cage.
Galloway responded that the high school players metal cleats are damaging the batting cage and the practice schedule is forcing youth games to start later.
Bounds also asked Galloway about the association’s revenue from participation fees and other fund-raisers.
“You have to make about $75,000,” Bounds said.
“It’s more than that, to be honest,” Galloway answered.