Trustees propose 5-cent tax increase
Rockdale ISD trustees made it official Monday, adopting a 2012-13 budget that’s based on a five-cent tax increase, from $1.225 to $1.275.
While the general fund budget actually shows expenditure decreases in every line item but one— “recapture” funds which must be returned to the state—the increase is necessary in order to allow RISD to make payments on its bonded indebtedness, paying off the new school buildings constructed in 2008-09, according to Marla Wallace, chief financial officer.
Meeting in regular session in the Central Administration Building, trustees also accepted a $12,747 settlement with a yearbook publishing company over a publication termed a “catastrophe” by board president Lee Jenkins.
TAX, BUDGET—Wallace told board members the district had “worked very hard to find every place we could cut.”
General fund, maintenance and operation (M&O) expenditures are listed as $14,398,946, a $1,983,497 deficit budget.
Actually, no change is proposed for the M&O portion of the tax rate. It’s targeted to stay at $1.04.
But the interest and sinking (INS) rate is proposed to climb from 18.5 cents to 23.5 cents.
Wallace said the main factor in the tax increase proposal is the major drop in taxable values during the past year.
Preliminary figures released by the Milam Appraisal District (AD) showed the RISD’s taxable values dropped by 28 percent, from $1.2 billion to $863 million.
MilamAD Chief Appraiser Pat Moraw attributed the drop to lower values at Luminant’s Sandow 4 and 5 power plant units and to a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) pollution control exemption for Unit 5.
The RISD owes $27,585,000 in principal from the 2007 bond package which built a new intermediate school, expanded and renovated the high school and provided for expansions or renovations at the elementary and junior-high campuses.
Total expenditures for 2012- 13, including food service and debt service budgets, were put at $17,303,802.
The $1.275 proposed tax rate is the highest which can be adopted by the RISD without being subject to a tax rollback election.
YEARBOOK—Board members okayed the “$12,747” settlement figure with Herff Jones C ompa ny—negot iate d dow n from a figure over $20,000—to close the books on what Jenkins termed as the “catastrophe” of a previous school yearbook.
Supt. Dr. Howell Wright said a previous yearbook sponsor, no longer employed by the school, signed an additional contract with the publisher, without authorization.
He said the publication “missed deadlines,” incurred other expenses and the project ended significantly in the red.
Trustees Lin Perry, a builder, and Michelle L ehmk uhl, an attorney, noted that they were never contacted for ads in the publication and asked “If you aren’t calling your school members (for ads), who are you calling?”
Jenkins termed the finished yearbook “disgraceful looking.”
Dr. Wright said the 2011-12 yearbook fared much better with a new sponsor and new company. He said the yearbook was actually delivered in May and a supplement covers graduation.
PERSONNEL—Employed for 2012-13 were:
Rebecca Ingram, RHS counselor; Brooksy Fisher, RHS technology; John Kovar, RJH social studies/coach.
Susan Logsdon, Burleson- Milam special education coordinator; Toroian Schauwecker, Burleson-Milam speech-language pathologist assistant.
Resignations accepted were:
Lindsey Lillard, second grade; Dawn Boyd, RJH office paraprofessional; Stephany Shuffield, elementary paraprofessional; Seth Jordan, RJH special education/ coach.
In other business, trustees:
• In a cost-cutting move, for the second consecutive year, froze the teacher salary schedule and merit compensation plan.
• Heard a report on student fitness scores from Pam Kaufmann, assistant superintendent.
• Okayed workers compensation insurance, student insurance carrier and a legal services retainer agreement.
• Approved amendments to the 2011-12 budget.
• Heard board members report on the recent Summer Leadership Board Meeting.