Weatherford Democrat

Local News

June 20, 2012

Peaster ISD considers tax ratification election

PEASTER — The Peaster Independent School District has weathered the financial storm over the last few years.

But with more and more cuts, district trustees at Tuesday’s board meeting discussed the possibility of holding a tax ratification election this year to help combat some of the financial loss.

“When you look at the budget in April, we had a pretty significant loss,” Kim Alexander, Skyward Financial Database administrator, said. “We reduced our budget supplies, which didn’t save us as much as we thought, and we had some bus fares and also had to replace the air compressor in the gymnasium.”

Along with the added costs, superintendent Matt Adams reported that the district also suffered a 45-student registration decrease.

“Even after taking that hit, our fund balance is still above the amount we said we wouldn’t want to go below,” he said.

While the interest and sinking side of the district’s budget remains in good shape, Alexander and the board went through scenarios that would help out the maintenance and operations side, specifically exchanging pennies from I&S to M&O.

“If we swapped three pennies, the taxpayers would be paying the same amount, but it would yield us a $211,000 increase on our M&O side,” Alexander explained.

A swap of five pennies would give the M&O budget a positive balance, she said.

Several board members expressed their concern for holding a TRE, which is required if the district adopts a tax rate higher than its rollback rate.

Adams responded to the questioning by saying that the district had absorbed many positions and had “refinanced everything they possibly could” to ease the deficit.

If a new tax rate is adopted early, the board can forgo a general elections ballot in November and have a tax ratification election in September, Adams said.

Trustees voted to table the item until a meeting with financial advisers could be set in July.

“I think the public has more knowledge now about the TRE than they used to,” trustee Wes Maynard said.

Tuesday night’s events opened with a training session, conducted by Texas Association of School Boards consultant Kathy London, who reviewed Peaster’s board policies in conjunction with the state’s policies.

Topics addressed included open positions on the school board, relationships between board members and district employees, expense reimbursement, the Open Meetings Act, public participation and comments and presentation lengths.

The board also:

• Heard information on the TASA/TASB fall conference and convention.

• Approved a recommendation for the TASB board of directors.

• Voted to open bidding for electricity pricing at the junior high campus.

• Voted to update a policy regarding wellness and health services and care plans.

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