Marble Falls ISD adopts $41.8 million general fund budget


By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor
The Highlander

Marble Falls Independent School District trustees approved a $41.8 million balanced general fund budget for fiscal year 2017-18 during their regular board meeting Monday night after holding a public hearing.

The new budget includes a three percent payroll increase for all staff with additional market adjustments plus an additional $25 per month in health insurance premium benefit for all employees.

The budget assumes a total tax rate of $1.2786, which includes $1.0533 per $100 valuation for maintenance and operations and 22.53 cents for interest and sinking.

It represents a slight decrease from the 2016-17 tax rate of $1.28 per $100 valuation. The tax rate will not be approved until the August board meeting, after the district receives the final certified values from the Burnet Central Appraisal District on July 25.

An increase in anticipated property tax valuations of 2.75 percent, up to $2.9 billion for fiscal year 2017-18, will generate an additional $2,139,288 in property tax revenues, from $34,065,310 in 2016-17 to $36,204,598 in 2017-18, while the state will also kick in an additional $112,193 in state revenue. However, the district is subject to recapture under the “Robin Hood” school finance plan, and will have to send millions in local tax revenue to the Texas Education Agency.

Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code requires “property wealthy” school districts, like Marble Falls ISD, share their wealth with school districts that are “property poor.” TEA is charged with “recapturing” funds from the property wealthy districts to redistribute to the property poor districts, based upon a formula involving weighted average daily attendance and property tax revenue.

As a property wealthy school district, Marble Falls ISD has been paying recapture to the TEA since 2005. In 12 years, Marble Falls ISD has sent back more than $40.2 million to the state to be shared with property poor districts, an average of more than $3.35 million per year.

The 2017-18 budget calls for payroll expenses of $31,401,457, up from $29,949,973 in 2016-17. However, capital outlay is expected to decrease in the next fiscal year, from $874,118 to $393,120 as the district will only be performing a few facility upgrades and purchasing two new buses in 2017-18, Executive Director of Finance Lisa LeMon said.

The general fund is expected to have an ending fund balance of $13,893,207 in June 2018 at the end of the next fiscal year, which is the same as it will be on July 1.

The district is expected to bring in $7,802,610 in revenue in the debt service fund in 2017-18, with expenditures of $6,457,218 for a budget surplus of $1,345,393, which would increase the fund balance in the district's debt service fund from $7,130,735 on July 1 to $8,476,127 by June 30, 2018.

In related action Monday night, the district voted to approve changes to Policy CE (Local) to establish a fiscal year beginning July 1. In the past, fiscal years for Marble Falls ISD began Oct. 1, coinciding with the state of Texas.

Board members also voted to approve a trip by the Marble Falls ISD choir to New York to take part in workshops with the cast of the Broadway smash hit “Wicked” as well as to perform at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The trip will take place during Spring Break next year.

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