FISD trustees talk dollars, 'sense'

By Richard Zowie —

Prior to its May 12 regular meeting, the Fredericksburg Independent School District trustees talked dollars and cents during a budget workshop special meeting at the Central Administration Building.

FISD’s 2013-2014 fiscal year will end June 30, and the 2014-2015 year begins July 1.

The projected budget for next year is $35.3 million, an increase of $2.2 million from the previous year.

By the end of this fiscal year, FISD officials project a general fund balance of $12,358,301.

Deborah Ottmers, assistant superintendent for business and finance, said the district always budgets at about 110 percent of what they expect due to various reasons. Among them:

• The state may change requirements or revenue formulas, and the school districts’ costs may rise quickly.

“We know we have new graduation requirements, and all the plans for instruction are not worked out yet, but we do have funds available to cover the additional costs for these programs,” Ottmers said.

• Currently, FISD officials have only rough estimates of property taxes. The estimates affect local and state revenue, and the “recapture” Chapter 41 expenditure payment to go back to the state since FISD is considered a “wealthy” district.

“These costs can escalate quickly, and having funds in the budget to cover them is essential,” Ottmers said.

• District officials are conservative on delinquent property tax collections and usually collect more than the budget provides for.

“This also helps reduce the deficit budget,” she said.

• In FISD’s zero-based budgeting system, the staff will request specific non-payroll needs for the next year. “However, not all of it is spent since the staff at times will decide they don’t need all that they asked for,” Ottmers said. “So they do not waste those funds.”

Ottmers added that trustees receive updates monthly so they can be kept current on the district’s financial activities.

“We monitor all budgets and expenditures very carefully,” she said.

This upcoming year’s Chapter 41 payment is estimated to be $6.1 million, more than $1.1 million more than this current year.

The budget also includes an increase in travel expenses for the athletics and band department. The Billies are moving to District 14-4A in Division 1 and may have to travel longer distances to some road games. Among varsity football’s non-district opponents will be La Grange on Sept. 25. As a round trip, it’s close to 300 miles.

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