Tax rate unchanged for MFISD, soccoer fields a go in Granite Shoals

By Lew K. Cohn
Managing Editor
The Highlander
Depending on the value of their property, Marble Falls Independent School District taxpayers may see their individual taxes increase for the 2016-2017 school year, but they will be paying the same tax rate they have for the past several years.
MFISD trustees voted 5-0 on Monday, Aug. 29, to set a maintenance and operations tax rate of $1.0533 per $100 valuation and an interest and sinking tax rate of 22.67 cents per $100 valuation for a total tax rate of $1.28. It is the fifth year in a row the district has set its tax rate at $1.28 per $100 valuation.
School board members also approved an additional $1,123,595 in revenue and expenditures for the fiscal 2017 budget after learning that property values for the district had come in higher than expected. This now creates a total budget of $41,373,742 — up from the budget of $40,223,217 adopted by trustees earlier this year.
District Finance Director Lisa LeMon said the district set a budget based on property value growth of about 0.5 percent and anticipated the district could see an increase in value of as much as 2.5 percent. However, the district's taxable values jumped by nearly $80 million, from $2.709 billion to $2.789 billion, or about 3.47 percent, which will generate an extra $1,123,595 in revenue and allow the district to fund some additional personnel positions and make some capital expenditures as needed.
Budget amendments approved Monday by the board include an increase in professional salaries of $352,767; an increase in capital outlay for vehicles of $300,000; an increase of $196,600 in general supplies; an increase in $25,000 for student travel and an increase of $25,475 for technology supplies.
The district will also be responsible for paying $88,996 more to the state as a property-wealthy school district in conjunction with the state school finance plan. This process is known as recapture. Marble Falls ISD will pay $3,588,696 back to the state in recapture for fiscal year 2017.
MFISD Superintendent Dr. Chris Allen said the increase in salaries is due to an increase in student enrollment, especially in Career and Technology Education (CTE), which has seen more than 290 students sign up for welding and other CTE classes, making it one of the most popular offerings at Marble Falls ISD.
The district will also purchase new buses as part of its bus replacement program and will do so from the increased revenue in the general fund. Other expenditures include wi-fi upgrades on buses and an increase in the amount given to students for meals when on extracurricular trips from $5 to $7 per person. An additional $206,753 will go into the interest and sinking fund to be used to pay down on bond principal.
As part of the consent agenda, school board members voted to contract with the City of Granite Shoals to build soccer fields next to Highland Lakes Elementary School.
MFISD Superintendent Dr. Chris Allen has said the district owns unimproved land next to the school and has discussed the need for additional recreational facilities for children in the Granite Shoals and Marble Falls area.
“We both agree there is definitely a need for more play space in that attendance zone,” Allen said. “We have the property and they have the materials and manpower.”
Granite Shoals would be responsible for all financial obligations necessary to construct soccer fields on the property and would perform the work, though they would have to get approval from MFISD trustees prior to construction.
When completed, the city will turn the property back over to the school district, which will be responsible for overall maintenance and upkeep of the land with the exception of water utilities, which will be maintained by the city.
The city of Granite Shoals would also be given the first opportunity at scheduling use of the new soccer fields during times the district does not need to use the facilities with fees waived by the district for using the facilities.
The facilities are expected to be completed on or before Sept. 1, 2019.
Granite Shoals City Manager Ken Nickel praised the action of the board.
“Thank you for thinking outside of the box,” Nickel told trustees. “We have more than 600 children enrolled in school in Granite Shoals, but no basketball courts, no soccer fields, no football fields and no baseball fields. We see this as the first of many things we can do for our children and we look forward to it.”
The board also heard requests from the Marble Falls High School band and the FFA nursery and landscaping team regarding upcoming trips these groups will be making.
The FFA nursery and landscaping team, which won the state title earlier this year, will go to Indianapolis, Indiana, from Oct. 18-22 to compete for a national title at the FFA convention. Sponsor Grant Cole and team member Avery Marshall both spoke to the board about the cost of the upcoming trip and the success of the team.
Meanwhile, band director Brad Behrens informed the board the Mustang Band has been invited to perform at the Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C, next May. The trip, which will cost about $1400 per person, will be paid for through student fundraisers. About 80 students are expected to attend.

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