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S-T trustees defy request for tax hike
Sep 06, 2008 | 384 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
posted Aug. 15 -

Skidmore-Tynan trustees voted at their Monday meeting against raising taxes, opting to keep the current rate of $1.04 per $100 property valuation.

That rate does not include the 25 cents to pay for outstanding debts, which brings the total tax rate to $1.29.

Trustees have not formally adopted this tax rate, but have only voted to have the amount published prior to the meeting later this month when a formal rate is adopted, along with the budget.

The 25 cents is a set amount and trustees have no discretion on this amount, but, the $1.04 is what the budget is based upon and what trustees were discussing on Monday.

Superintendant Dr. Brett Belmarez said that the administration had proposed a tax rate, the maintenance and operations portion, of $1.17 based upon the district’s current $6 million budget.

The difference will mean that the budget will need to be cut by $223,000 in order to balance, said Carole Estes, business manager with the district.

An increase in the maintenance and operations portion of the tax rate by 4 or 5 cents would have balanced the budget by giving the district the needed $223,000.

Estes said that the current budget, developed using the higher tax rate, would have also funded additional items such as two new buses, relocation of tennis courts and security fencing.

When the lower tax rate was discussed, Estes said she cut the additional items from the budget, leaving the $223,000 shortfall.

Of that amount, about $124,000 is needed for teacher pay raises with the remainder being for rising costs of such things as fuel, electricity and insurance.

The total difference for the district in funding between the two tax rates means the loss of $497,588 in state money.

The 13-cent increase, Estes said, amounted to “$53.22 in taxes per year for the average taxpayer.”

Those voting for the $1.04 proposed rate were Rick Olivares, Ysrael R. Salinas, Danny Gonzales and Cipriano Guerra. Those voting against it were Keith Petrus and Ken Haggard.

Esequiel Ortiz Jr. was not at the meeting.

Olivares said that he didn’t feel that the 13-cent tax increase was necessary right now.

“Times are tough out here,” said Olivares, board president. “We went up 4 cents last year because the state said we could go up without voter consent...

“The max you can go up is 13 cents. Even if you go up one cent, it takes a rollback election.”

Olivares said that he expects to meet with Belmarez next week to discuss what additional items can be cut from the budget to decrease it by the required amount.

“If we have to, we will go into the fund balance,” he said.

Estes said that their current fund balance was $1.16 million.

“As you can (see), it would not take very many years to use that up – probably around three,” she said, accounting for the continuous increase in fuel and electricity costs. “That is a pretty big hit on a $1.1 million fund balance.”

Olivares said that the budget, as proposed, contained items that could be decreased or cut.

“Some of those projects he put in there weren’t worthy of putting into the budget,” Olivares said, referring to such items as moving the tennis courts and the additional lighting.

Olivares wasn’t saying the improvements should not be done, but said that this should be done when money was available and not by raising taxes.

The board president said that he still wants to ensure that district employees get the 3 percent raise approved by trustees.

“The only part that was really necessary was the salaries that we increased by 3 percent,” he said. He added that he didn’t expect any layoffs either.

A meeting is expected on Aug. 25 for trustees to approve the budget and adopt the tax rate.
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