SOUTHLAKE -- Carroll school district trustees have adopted an $81.9 million budget for fiscal 2012-13 that includes a 1-percent salary increase for employees and is supported by a 2-cent property tax rate hike.Under state law, the district had to build the increase into the budget even though voters have yet to approve a 2-cent increase through a tax ratification election, which is Sept. 15."We are not pre-supposing that it passes," said Julie Thannum, Carroll school district spokeswoman. "That's the way the state calls it."Early voting in the special election starts Wednesday and ends Sept. 11.Besides the pay increase, trustees approved a one-time stipend to help employees offset the cost of increasing insurance payments.Thannum said that the pay increase and stipend are being covered by $855,000 in flood-control revenue and about $1 million of fund balance savings.Carroll's teaching staff has not been given a pay increase in two years, and other staff hasn't received pay increases in three years, Thannum said. Meanwhile, the cost of living and insurance has been going up, she said."Their paychecks are less each month," she said.The budget is based on a tax rate of $1.42 per $100 of assessed property value. That rate includes a 1.5-cent drop in the debt-service tax rate and a 2-cent increase in the maintenance and operations tax rate.The election was triggered because the school board is considering raising the maintenance and operations portion by 2 cents.If voters approve the tax rate increase, residents with an average home value of $467,580 would see a net tax rate increase of about $25 per year.If the proposal is rejected, the tax rate would be $1.40.The proposed increase is expected to generate about $1.1 million to help reduce a $3.9 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2012-13.Even with the TRE dollars, Carroll faces a budget shortfall of about $2.8 million.Trustee Craig Rothmeier said the board still has to be aggressive about balancing the budget."The bottom line, I think we are moving in the right direction given the environment that we face," he said.Rothmeier said the board wanted to be able to address employee pay increases even in difficult times. The pay increase passed with a 4-3 vote on Aug. 6 with Rothmeier, Fred Stovall and John Thane casting dissenting votes.That vote depicts how complicated budgeting issues are since Rothmeier supports a pay raise but questioned how they will pay for it."It was more process-related than result-related," he said.If the election doesn't pass, trustees' options include using more fund balance dollars to cover costs, changing student schedules, selling property or shifting the fiscal year.The school board is also exploring the possibility of selling the current administration building at 3051 Dove Road in Grapevine. In January 2013, administrators and other staff will move into a renovated facility at the former Carroll Middle School, along East Dove Road in Southlake.The district also expects to raise $691,000 this year after raising the cost charged to families to participate in the pay-to-ride bus fee program.The biggest budgeted cost to the district is instruction, with an estimated $36 million expected to be spent on classroom- and teaching-related expenses. The second-highest expense is a $13.9 million payment to the state. Carroll is considered a property-wealthy district and must send money to the state every year under the state's share-the-wealth school funding program, dubbed Robin Hood.Diane Smith, 817-390-7675Twitter: @dianeasmith1
Tax ratification election
The Carroll school district is holding a public meeting Thursday to answer questions about the 2-cent tax increase. The 7 p.m. meeting will be in the Johnson Elementary School auditorium, 1301 N. Carroll Ave., Southlake. A question-and-answer session will be held after a brief presentation.
Early voting began Tuesday at Southlake Town Hall, 1256 Main St., on the third floor and will continue each day and on Saturdays through Sept. 11.
Election Day voting will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 15 in the art building at Carroll Senior High School, 1501 W. Southlake Blvd. For more information on the school district's budget: www.southlakecarroll.edu/isd-home.aspx.