2017-05-20 / Front Page

CCSD juggles budget numbers

For all the talk about the devastating consequences of inadequate state funding, Cameron County School Board have unanimously approved a $12.58 million 2017-18 budget that holds the real estate tax at the current 43.13 mills.

A mill is one-tenth of one percent levied against a property’s assessed value. A home or parcel with an assessed value of $20,000, for example, would pay $862.

Directors still have held out the option of increasing taxes when they take a final vote on the preliminary spending plan. The maximum increase allowable without a voter referendum is 1.51 mills, which would generate an additional $114,000 in new revenue.

Spending is forecasted to rise by $300,000 from the current budget year, which expires June 30, according to Business Manager Carl Mitchell. At this point, the plan carries a $525,000 deficit.

Board members will convene at 6:30 pm on Monday, May 22, and attempt to whittle down expenses.

Mitchell reported that, as usual, much of the blame can be placed on employee health insurance and retirement costs, which are expected to rise by 6 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

Six-figure special education expenses and a substantial cyber school payment have also been factored into the plan.

Another uncertainty is the teachers’ union contract, which is still being negotiated behind closed doors. Also, the board has yet to decide whether it will hire a high school principal. The position brings with it salary and benefit expenses of about $100,000 that could be axed.

“We’ve budgeted to pull about $320,000 from our reserves, but we’re hoping it will be closer to $200,000,” Mitchell said. “We won’t know for sure until we receive the final subsidy figures from the state.”

At the same time, the school board has approved a two-percent annual raise for certain administrative personnel.

The preliminary budget is available for public review at the school.

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