FROM STAFF REPORTS
MARBLE FALLS — Citing great fiscal management during previous years, Marble Falls Independent School District superintendent Chris Allen said the board of trustees adopted a 2015-16 tax rate that is the same as the previous one.
And the one before that and the one before that.
And, yes, the one before that.
The board adopted an ad valorem rate of $1.28 per $100 valuation, the same rate since the 2012-13 fiscal year. And that was a penny drop from the 2011-12 year.
The rate even sticks with the same maintenance and operation ($1.0533) and interest and sinking, also know as debt service, (22.67 cents).
The adopted rate will support the district’s budget of about $40 million.
“There was no need to raise the tax rate because our finances have been extremely well managed by Lisa LeMon who is our director of business operations,” Allen said.
But his praise extended across the district to the campuses, the department heads and the staff for keeping a tight watch on spending.
Allen, who took over the superintendent position this summer, said one of the things at which he looked when considering applying for the MFISD top spot was its finances. And through his review, he noted district leaders and the school board had done a tremendous job over the years, not only with the budget but also on transparency.
“We’ve been very transparent,” he said.
Allen noted that MFISD had earned a “platinum” rating, the highest rating from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts under its Leadership Circle program, which looks at financial transparency. MFISD scored 22 out of 23 possible points. According to the comptroller’s website, “Platinum spotlights entities that go above and beyond providing financial transparency.”
At the heart of the effort, though, is ensuring students, staff, parents, the community and taxpayers get the best schools possible.
While the approved budget doesn’t include any major increases for programs, Allen said the board did approve a cost-of-living increase for staff that averages out to about 2 percent.
The district added a few teachers this year to keep up with the growing enrollment, but those additional students also equate into more state funding. Ironically, though the district gets money from the state, it also sends local taxpayer money back to the state as part of its Chapter 41 designation.
Allen said the budget includes $3 million that MFISD sends to the state as part of the Chapter 41 recapture, also known as “Robin Hood.” The superintendent said that money, if it stayed in MFISD, could really benefit the students and staff.
On Sept. 1, the Texas Supreme Court began hearing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the current Texas public school finance law, which requires some districts to send part of their locally generated tax funds to the state for use in other school districts.
Though MFISD adopted the same tax rate as the previous one, it doesn’t mean a homeowner’s school district tax bill will remain the same. The appraised value of a person’s property also impacts the property tax bill.
Go to marblefallsisd.org for more information on MFISD and its programs.