The Gilmer School Board on Monday night lowered the district’s ad valorem tax rate by one cent, and approved a $17.8 million budget which gives pay raises to all GISD workers except School Supt. Rick Albritton in the forthcoming 2012-2013 fiscal year.
The board lowered the overall tax rate from $1.195 cents per $100 valuation to $1.185. Despite the pay raises of $1,200 for all teachers and two percent for other employees, the $17,868,193 budget is about $437,000 lower than the current $18,305,280.
A bare quorum of board members approved the tax rate and budget by a 4-0 vote. Trustees Todd Tefteller and Mark Tackett were absent, and trustee Mark Skinner left the meeting before the votes after receiving word his grandmother had died.
Trustees Jeff Rash, Ken Southwell, Diedra Camp and Gloria King approved the rate and budget.
The tax rate decrease resulted from the district re-funding some bonds, giving the school an $80,000 excess, said Albritton. The tax rate consists of one portion for maintenance and operations, and another portion for interest and sinking.
The interest and sinking part of the overall rate was lowered from 15.5 cents to 14.5 at Albritton’s recommendation, while the maintenance and operations portion remains $1.04. Board President Rash noted the district got to pass the savings from re-funding bonds “along to the taxpayer.”
Albritton pointed out that the $80,000 was being placed in the school’s interest/sinking balance and could be used only to pay debt. Raising the maintenance and operations (commonly known as “M&O”) part of the tax rate would require voter approval, he said.
With state aid to the district having been reduced by $2.5 million for a 2-year period, the budget was reduced through cuts in staffing (by attrition only), general supplies, travel and contracting services, the superintendent said. The budget has no reduction in force, he said.
Mrs. Camp said the state government is putting “pressure” on the district in both testing and funding, and “Gilmer ISD has done an exceptional job of combatting that and succeeding.”