Gilmer ISD keeps same tax rate
by PHILLIP WILLIAMS
Aug 19, 2010 | 1212 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Gilmer School Board on Monday night approved keeping the current tax rate of $1.195 per $100 valuation, and adopted what School Supt. Rick Albritton termed a “lean” budget of nearly $18.7 million for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Albritton said he and trustees concurred it was “definitely not an economical time for a tax increase” and he said the tax rate will bring in less revenue than for the current 2009-2010 fiscal year.

However, Albritton added, the average home in Gilmer ISD is valued at $104,081, and taxes would jump $50.50 on a home of that value due to valuation increases.

In addition, Albritton said, law requires that teachers receive a two-percent pay raise in the new budget, which will cost about $200,000. The superintendent said his base salary remains at its current $150,000.

“We have trimmed as much as we can trim” from the budget, including a significant reduction in travel and virtually all contingency items, Albritton said. And no new buses are included in the new budget, he noted.

The current budget for the 2009-2010 year is $19,115,599, while the new budget is $18,695,206, he said.

Next year, Albritton warned, “We’re either going to have to look at additional sources for revenue, or the state’s going to have to help us out” in order for the district to continue providing the same quality of education.

He pointed out that Gilmer teachers have 90 minutes off each day when the state requires only 45, and that this costs the district more than $1.5 million a year. But Albritton said he thought planning was necessary for the academic program’s success, and that teachers utilize that time well.

“It’s a depressing year for me,” the superintendent said in presenting what he called a “bare” budget.

Board President Todd Tefteller commended him, saying “Mr. Albritton, I think you’ve done an admirable job of getting us into the next year without a tax increase.” Tefteller noted that the school is funding raises without increasing taxes.

Albritton, who teaches finance, is among the highest paid Class 3A school superintendents in Texas and is worth it, Tefteller declared.

But while the school averted a tax rate hike this time, Tefteller warned that “we may not be so lucky next year. We’ll cross that bridge” then.

The $1.195 tax rate includes $1.04 for maintenance and operation and 15.5 cents for interest and sinking.

The Upshur County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office had determined that the “effective tax rate” for the district—the amount needed to raise about the same amount of revenue as now—was $1.279.

Of the nearly $18.7 million overall budget, $18,038,724 is for the maintenance and operation budget.

In other action Monday night, the GISD board approved an addendum to the student handbook restricting electronic communication (such as text messages and Facebook) between school employees and students.

Trustees also acted on several other matters, ranging from accepting bids on properties foreclosed for delinquent taxes to accepting a bid on computers.

The board also went into closed session partly to discuss what the agenda termed a “land issue” and to consult with its attorney.
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