Copperas Cove ISD board of trustees approve budget and tax rate

Cove Leader-Press

The Copperas Cove Independent School District held a public hearing before voting to approve the proposed budget and tax rate for 2021-2022 Tuesday evening. 
sThe previous tax rate for CCISD was $1.12865 per $100 valuation, with a Maintenance and Operations tax rate of $1.05235 per $100 valuation and an Interest and Sinking tax rate of 7.630 cents per $100 valuation. 
The new, approved tax rate, based on the final certified property values, is $1.04092, with an M&O rate of 96.965 cents per $100 valuation and an I&S rate of 7.127 cents per $100 valuation. 
The voter-approval tax rate, formerly called the rollback rate, is the highest tax rate that the district could adopt before triggering an election. This rate is $1.04232 per $100 valuation. 
The rate approved by the board is below the voter approval rate, which Superintendent Joseph Burns said was due to the way the tax rates are calculated by the state.
“The reason it’s below the rollback rate is now school districts don’t get the ability to actually determine what your tax rate is,” Burns said. “TEA, legislators made sure through the legislative process the tax rate gets compressed, but you have to submit all of your tax collections, all your delinquents, current, everything to TEA, and then TEA tells you what your tax rate is, and if they don’t agree with you, and you adopt a tax rate that’s different than that, they will only let you collect on their tax rate. I don’t know why we even calculate it anymore, but it’s an exercise to help TEA stay honest or us stay honest- I don’t know which one it is.”
The average home value has increased to $151,870, compared to last year’s value of $132,184.  
Even with a tax rate that is eight cents lower, the average homeowners in CCISD will pay $62.12 more this year due to home appraisals increasing, Burns said. 
The approved budget for includes revenues for the General Operating Fund totaling $77,960,994. This amount includes $16,291,185 in M&O taxes, $60,734,211 in State Aid, $335,598 in other local revenue and $600,000 in Federal Revenue (SHARS, Impact Aid).  The Debt Service Fund has revenues totaling $1,779,731, with $1,047,727 coming from I&S taxes and the remaining from State Aid. The district’s third fund, the Child Nutrition Services Fund, has $4,393,335 in revenues, with $18,500 coming from State Aid, $82,200 coming from other local revenues, and the remaining $4,292,635 coming from Federal Revenue. 
A large chunk of that revenue is from the National School Lunch program funding provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for free breakfast and lunch for all students, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The proposed expenditures in the General Operating Fund total $77,960,994, with $44,267,452 budgeted for Instructional (which includes teacher salaries). Burns said that around 70 percent of the district’s budget is for staff salaries. 
Compared to the proposed budget for 2020-2021, the 2021-2022 proposed budget sees a decrease in Maintenance and Operations expenditures by nearly nine percent, with an increase of 0.02 percent in the Debt Service (I&S) expenses. This is due to the bond payment increasing from $1,855,950 to $1,856,850. The total expenditures for the district decreased by 8.50 percent. 
The district will be utilizing the fund balance in its debt service fund to cover the debt payment difference of $79,619. 
Burns touched on the district’s debt service payments. CCISD will pay its last payment for debt in 2025, and Burns said the district technically has the money to pay off its remaining debt which totals $6.89 million. 
The district receives a reimbursement from the state, however, due to being considered “property poor” and only having approximately $162,000 of wealth per student, compared to larger districts who could have more than $550,000 of wealth per student. 
“There’s people who would look at us and say, ‘Hey, why don’t you go ahead and pay your debt off early?’” Burns said. “Well, we could, but we’re going to lose $732,000 every year that the state would pay because the state will not pay out in advance. They will not put their share in but annually, so there’s no incentive for you to pay off early.” 
The board also approved a budget amendment for Fiscal Year 2020-2021, which will increase the revenues by $11,784,725, using local revenue, state revenue and federal revenue, bringing the total of revenues from $72,376,958 to $84,161,683. The amendment also increased the expenditures for the 2020-2021 budget by $12,302,72, while decreasing other parts of the budget by $768,000. 
The board also approved a resolution for the commitment of Fund Balance for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. The district’s fund balance was $84,298,724, as of January 2021. The board approved a commitment of $20 million to Capital Improvement Projects already underway at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, Martin Walker Elementary, Hettie Halstead Elementary, Williams/Ledger Elementary and Copperas Cove High School; $10 million for insurance deductibles or emergency property repairs related to possible large-scale facility damage due to wind, hail, fire, etc.; $5 million for future purchase of land for possible future expansion; and $24,298,724  committed for future facility construction or renovation. Another $25 million will remain unassigned in the fund balance to ensure an adequate amount of funds are available to pay for up to four months of general operating expenditures in the event of a funding shortfall from the state or federal government. 
The board also accepted the certification of unopposed candidates for Place 1 and Place 2 and cancelled the election scheduled for Nov. 2, 2021, declaring Inez Faison and Shameria Ann Davis as elected by order.
They will take their oath of office during the board meeting on Nov. 9.

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
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