Trustees set tax rate, adopts budget with pay raises

By Becky Brewster

The Culberson County-Allamoore ISD Board of Trustees met in Special Session on August 31, 2020. In keeping with the mandates from the state and federal government concerning social distancing, the Board met through video-conferencing.

The purpose of the special meeting was to adopt the FY 2020-2021 budget and the 2020 Tax Rate. Supt. Ken Baugh presented a balanced budget to the Board for final review. He noted that the proposed budget provided for three new aide positions, an additional cafeteria employee, and reassigning the school nurse to full-time status to handle additional responsibilities related to COVID-19. Baugh also noted that the District balances are very healthy for the closing fiscal year with similar income for the upcoming year showing projected tax revenues at $27,990,400. However, he also pointed out that the impact of HB3, COVID-19, and a possible reduction in enrollment could negatively impact the 2021-2022 budget year. Baugh also pointed out that the proposed budget was built off of enrollment projections, so that projected income could be less than anticipated if enrollment falls short. Baugh noted that only about 170 students had registered on-line thus far, anticipating that many parents will show up on the first day of school requiring assistance for enrollment. Baugh indicated that the District would be held harmless by the State for the first six weeks of attendance so that no penalty would be imposed for that time but state income could be reduced if the enrollment was not where it should be. Therefore, due to the uncertainty caused by these conditions, the proposed budget did not provide for any salary increases, noting that the District had increased salaries by 8% over the last two years and increased stipends significantly in the same time frame.

Trustee Eddie Seyffert brought up the issue of raises, and stated that it would be a disservice not to consider a small raise in a show of support for all the faculty and staff. Baugh indicated that the District was in a position to grant raises for this fiscal year, but was concerned about the impact on future years. He reminded the Board that they had a very generous stipend schedule including stipends for academics to help supplement the salary schedule, but noted that raises are permanent. Baugh acknowledged that he was being cautious with all the uncertainty about future finances. Seyffert asked about increases in taxes in future years if the need arose, but Baugh noted that SB3 capped the taxes at $.83/$100 for M&O with the ability to raise this amount with “five golden pennies.” The District’s proposed tax rate is at the maximum allowed so there will be no room for increases in future years. Seyffert proposed that some of the excess funds from FY 2019-2020 be allocated for raises in the amount of $100,000 spread across all employees noting that the District needed to have an “investment in one of the greatest resources in our District.” The Board ultimately adopted the FY 2020-2021 budget as presented with an additional $100,000 added to the salary budget.

Baugh reviewed the tax rate calculations showing that the proposed M&O Rate was $.87470/$100 valuation and the proposed Debt Rate was $.40/$100 valuation for a total proposed rate of $1.27/$100 valuation. The rate proposal incorporates the “compressed” tax rate mandated by HB3. The Board adopted the tax rate of $1.27/$100 valuation as proposed, noting that this rate is approximately $.10/$100 valuation less than last year’s rate.