PAISD gives ‘go ahead’ on planning budget
Port Aransas school trustees on Tuesday, July 19, told Superintendent Dr. Sharon Doughty to go ahead with a budget for 2011-2012 that depends on a higher tax collection rate than last year.
They also wanted Doughty to find enough money – estimated at $20,000 – to give classroom teachers a modest pay raise. That wouldn’t give administrators or other employees any additional money for the coming school year.
However, they stopped short of telling the district’s executive director of business and operations, Carol Sue Hipp, to take that money from another fund and put it into salaries.
“We’re going to give Carol Sue the option to do some of the things (with the budget) she thinks she can do,” said board President Margaret Price. “Then hopefully (the board will) adopt this budget, and then if things happen in a way we don’t expect them to, we could come back and give a raise.”
Hipp said the board can’t legally give bonuses. Instead, she said any increase would come in the form of a contract adjustment, and would have to be a continuing expense, not a one-time payment.
At press time, Hipp had not yet had a chance to analyze the certified tax roll sent to her by the Nueces County Appraisal District to learn how much, if any, additional money the school district would get from property values that are higher than the appraisal district’s original estimate.
The appraisal district certified a total taxable value for the school district of $ 1,624,486,488. That’s an increase in property values of more than $7.8 million. However, the amount of tax revenue the district will get from the larger figure isn’t enough to make an appreciable difference in the budget, Hipp said.
“It will give me a little bit of breathing room,” she said.
The proposed budget of $8,074,964 reflects state and federal funding cuts totaling $517,868 from last school year.
An additional $11,672,976 is expected to be sent back to the state next year in the form of recapture funds under the so-called “Robin Hood” school finance system.
The budget proposed to the board would balance if the district manages to collect 98 percent of the property tax owed it. However, board members pointed out that historically, tax collection rates have hovered at 96 or 97 percent.
Board member Rick Adams urged administrators to ask law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Samson in Corpus Christi to increase its effort to collect delinquent taxes for the district. The firm is retained by the district but makes little money if it doesn’t collect delinquent taxes.
Adams said with the proposed budget, this will be the first year since he’s been on the board that teachers haven’t gotten a pay raise of some kind.
Figures from Hipp given to the board at the workshop showed teacher raises going back to the 2006-2007 school year. However, the raises have shown a steadilydeclining percentage of base pay, starting in 2006-07 at a 7.817 percent raise and ending with a 2.962 percent raise last year.
Non-teaching employees received no raise at all in 2008-09, and their take-home pay actually declined slightly the following year, although last year they received a 10.6 percent raise.
Several trustees noted that if the district sees some kind of windfall during the year, the budget can be adjusted to reflect increased income. That could mean funds could be shifted from one line account to another to provide raises.
Board members have until Thursday, Aug. 25, to digest the information presented to them on July 19. That’s the date they’ll meet again to set the tax rate for the coming year and to adopt the budget. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the board room, 100 S. Station St.