While the tax rate for the Killeen Independent School District is set to remain the same as last year, the district is expected to take in more revenue and increase its budgetary expenditures next year, thanks to a bump in assessed property values.
Killeen ISD board members proposed next year’s tax rate of $1.128 per $100 of assessed property value at a meeting Tuesday.
The district’s total property tax rate is a combination of two rates: maintenance and operation and debt services, sometimes referred to as the interest and sinking rate. The district’s proposed maintenance and operation rate remains the same at $1.04 per $100 of assessed property value, as well as its interest and sinking rate, at 8 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Killeen ISD’s current debt is $99.2 million, with the district paying off about $12 million a year.
“Our net taxable property values did increase 1.8 percent this year, and last year it was 5.14 percent. So, it’s a lesser increase, but it still is an increase, so that’s good,” said Megan Bradley, Killeen ISD’s chief financial officer.
Killeen ISD’s proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year is $337.2 million in expenditures, an $11.2 million uptick compared to last year.
The extra expenditures come from several sources, Bradley said. The district increased the starting salary for its teachers from $43,000 to $43,500, added to its contribution to the Texas Retirement System by 1.5 percent, raised its midpoint salaries by 2 percent and padded its federal Impact Aid budget by $3.6 million from the general fund.
Fewer federal dollars are coming in after the Department of Educational Impact Aid Program decreased this year.
The Impact Aid law helps school districts that have high concentrations of students who reside on military installations, Native American land or various other federal property.
The law helps to fill in the revenue gap because the district cannot collect taxes from homes or property at Fort Hood.
Killeen ISD expects to bring in $340.5 million in revenue next year, according to the proposed budget.
Compared to last year’s $329.2 million in revenue, more funds came in operating costs, shifting job classifications and increased property tax revenue, among others.
Board members questioned some of the proposed increases, including the district’s monthly per employee health care contributions, which remained unchanged from last year’s $552.
“What is the total amount of benefits? And I guess my other question is, what was our (retirement) contribution this year and what was it last year?” said Shelley Wells, board member, questioning if the district contributed too much to employee health care.
Interim Superintendent John Craft told members that while staff could rearrange some numbers, rearranging millions of dollars already set aside for health care or retirement might be a challenge.
A public hearing preceding final approval of both the budget and the tax rate will be 6 p.m. Aug. 28 at the school administration building on W.S. Young Drive.