Clear Creek ISD approves deficit budget at meeting Monday

The Clear Creek ISD board of trustees on Monday approved the fiscal year 2018-19 budget, which includes a deficit that is partially the result of school safety upgrades that were approved in July.

The budget includes $346.6 million in expenses and $339.4 million in revenue, making a shortfall of about $7.2 million. The district balanced the budget with its capital project fund, which includes excess money the district earmarked for use in case of a shortfall, said Paul McLarty, deputy superintendent of business and support services.

A little over $2 million of the shortfall came from the board’s decision to hire 15 additional liaison officers and 15 additional student-support counselors as a response to the Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting in May, McLarty said.

Most of the rest can be chalked up to Hurricane Harvey, he said.

Based on past years, the district expected property tax revenue to increase 7-8 percent this year, but it went up only about 3.25 percent because of the damage Harvey caused, McLarty said.

“We had lower taxable values, which kinda hurt us,” he said. “That put the biggest crunch on our revenues for this year.”

In addition, state revenue funneled to CCISD continued its downward trend, contributing to the deficit, he said.

Still, the district doesn’t expect to end the FY 2018-19 budget with such a large deficit. Each year, the district usually secures an additional $5 million in revenue for which it does not budget, so the deficit could end up being as little as $2 million, but the capital project fund dollars are there just in case, McLarty said.

“We certainly don’t think we’re going to use all of that $7.2 million,” he said.

Despite the shortfall, the district expects the property tax rate to remain at $1.40 per $100 valuation, where it has been for the past few years.

The tax rate includes $1.04 for maintenance and operations, or M&O, and $0.36 for debt service. The district will move two pennies from debt service to M&O to help bring in additional revenue. According to state law, the district can do this without a vote the year after a natural disaster, McLarty said.

McLarty said despite the deficit, it was important to the district to not increase its property tax rate to honor those who suffered financial hardship as a result of Harvey.

“Many of our taxpayers here were flooded,” McLarty said.

The district will finalize the tax rate in September, he said.

Other budget highlights include a 2 percent salary increase for teachers and other staff members and the creation of new 35.5 full-time positions, which will help reduce class sizes.

“We have growth every year, so this is to meet the growth needs,” McLarty said.

Board Member Laura DuPont pointed out that it is unsustainable to continue to raise salaries, which make up the most of the district’s increase in expenses.

McLarty said the state Legislature might help, but that the board might need to find local solutions.

“Unless they do something substantial, then the board here may have to act to take care of ourselves,” he said.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.



Judson Robinson III
Historic preservation dispute complicates embattled Hurricane Harvey recovery program

Progress on home reconstructions in some areas has stalled or moved forward with a different style and sometimes smaller layout than the homes had prior to the storm.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Texas Medical Center coronavirus updates: Average testing positivity rate nears 10% after sharp increase

Over 97% of people nationwide who are being hospitalized because of the disease are unvaccinated.

The more than $26 billion set of projects will project residents and businesses from flooding caused by storm surge. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Billion-dollar benefit: Gulf Coast Protection District aims to fund coastal barrier project

Legislators this session passed the creation of the Gulf Coast Protection District. On June 16, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the district into law.

Six Friendswood citizens were honored in Hope Village's fundraiser. (Haley Morrison/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hope Village honors residents from 12 Houston-area cities in 'Faces of Hope' fundraiser

Nominees received yard signs that were out on lawns for approximately two weeks in July.

As variants are isolated and identified, Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass believes the vaccines available can handle identified variants (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'The vaccines we have are effective against all the variants out there': Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass discusses variants, vaccinations

As Houston Methodist identified its first case of the lambda variant July 19, Dr. Glass believes vaccines can handle known variants.

(Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
Clear Creek ISD trustees to vote on district's 2021-22 compensation, benefits plan July 26

The proposed plan includes a 3% salary increase for all employees.

As variants are isolated and identified, Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass believes the vaccines available can handle identified variants. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Here is how Galveston County's COVID-19 positivity rates, infection patterns compare year over year

The county was in the middle of a second wave of coronavirus infections in July 2020. One year later, an outbreak has affected more than 150 county residents and marked the emergence of the delta variant.

ERCOT's instability has fueled interest in alternative sources of energy, with one solar nonprofit seeing interest increase across Texas in recent months. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Hot spots: Solar energy interest sparks in Clear Lake

Residents of 50 homes in Clear Lake and the surrounding area began forming a co-op in spring 2020 through Solar United Neighbors, a national nonprofit focused on supporting the growth of residential solar energy by informing consumers.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

port of houston
Port of Houston sets new diversity standards for business contracts

The port is joining a growing number of local and regional bodies interested in updating policies to increase participation from minority and women-owned businesses.