The tedious process of approving next year’s Weatherford ISD budget got underway recently as the first of what will be a few budget workshops was held for board members.
The first step in the summer-long process was laying out the draft of the general operating fund, the draft of the interest and sinking (I&S) tax rate and the draft of the overall tax rate, which includes maintenance and operation (M&O) in addition to the I&S.
Tracy Ray, WISD assistant superintendent of business and operations, explained to the board on June 23 how she arrives at the figures she does for the coming year, including projected revenue and expenses and the timelines that must be adhered to before final approval of the budget is obtained in August from the board.
Before revealing her numbers, Ray said revenue is forecasted by taking student counts, comptroller values from the State of Texas and local property values and projecting what is to be collected. While the certified local property values won’t be official until July 25, Ray said the numbers given to her by Larry Hammonds, Parker County Appraisal District Chief Appraisal, are "very close" to being what they will be in late July.
"I was told it’s not been a high appeal year," Ray added.
All told, Ray said certified values are down 1.4 percent from last July taking into consideration new construction and revenue from minerals. With that, Ray revealed the proposed expected revenue of $66.5 million for the upcoming year.
Expenditures, of which payroll accounts for more than $52 million and could include a 1 percent raise if approved by the board, total approximately $67 million and would require a transfer from the fund balance the district has. Even with that transfer, however, the district is still well over the recommended two to three months in reserve.
"It’s feast or famine [in school finance] all the time," Ray said. "But, we’re in really good shape."
Based on all of these factors, Ray said the draft proposed total tax rate would remain the same at $1.46 (1.17 M&O and 29 cents I&S).
The next step is to wait on the final certified property values to come in on July 25 and then the board will have another budget workshop. At a later meeting, the board will then approve the notice of a public meeting to discuss the budget and proposed tax rate for publication before ultimately adopting the budget and setting the tax rate.