The Denison Independent School District’s board of trustees discussed the district’s future finances Tuesday as it considered a proposed budget and tax rate for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Assistant Superintendent Randy Reid was the money man of the hour and floated a potential annual budget of $50.95 million and a possible tax rate of $1.49 per $100 valuation of taxable property value. The figures will remain fluid until a public hearing called for Aug. 15 is held and the board approves both at its next meeting.
“Overall, I think it’s a good budget that will meet our needs,” Reid said. “And I think we can make it work next year.”
Under the $50.95 million budget proposed for the year, the district would tentatively spend $24.9 million on instruction, $6 million on facility maintenance and operations and devote just under $5.2 million to debt repayment. With all other expenses factored in, Reid said the district is, on paper, projected to end up $289,000 in the red. But the assistant superintendent explained that wasn’t bad money management, but rather the district’s way of being conservative in its estimates and factoring in the worst case scenarios for expenditures.
“When we finish the year we won’t be in that position,” Reid said. “We budget, consistently more than what we actually spend in the year and that’s been the practice here in the district for several years.”
Employee compensation was also listed as a possible focus of the of the year’s budget. Hourly employees in the district’s maintenance, custodial and food service departments could see a 2 percent rate increase. District administrators could also see a 2 percent raise if the proposed budget is approved.
In an effort to attract new student-support personnel — titles held by teachers, librarians and counselors – the district pitched an increase of the starting salary from the current $43,000 to $45,000.
Superintendent Henry Scott said the school district has had to increase its starting pay for in order to keep up with higher salaries to the south.
“Sherman’s is higher,” Scott said of the neighboring district’s new-hire salary. “They caused us to have to bump up that bottom end when they went to $47,000. We want to be competitive and in the ballpark.”
One figure that would remain the same under the draft of the budget is the tax rate. Since 2013, the district’s tax rate has sat at $1.49 per $100 valuation. And for the coming year, $1.17 of that rate would be allocated the district’s general fund, while the remaining 32 cents would go toward debt service. Although the rate is set to stay the same, the district anticipates it will generate $1 million more in revenue than was generated last year.
“Our tax levy has gone up,” Reid said. “This is not because of our tax rate, but because our property values have increased.” Appraised values are set by the Grayson Central Appraisal District.
The district will host a public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rate in mid-August. Reid said the meeting will allow Denison residents to ask any questions they might have and give the district the chance to use their feedback to tailor the budget.
“We’ll provide a notice that has some information about the budget, about the tax rate and what increase it would be to the average homeowner,” Reid said. “That notice has that information in there. And then, of course, we welcome any kind of comments from the taxpayers that they want to make at that meeting concerning the budget.”
The public hearing will be held at 6:15 p.m. Aug. 15 in the Denison ISD board room, located at 1201 South Rusk Avenue.