Franklin Special School District approves 2020-21 budget; property tax will remain flat despite tough budget year

The Franklin Special School District board of education approved its fiscal year 2020-21 budget during a July 20 meeting. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Franklin Special School District board of education approved its fiscal year 2020-21 budget during a July 20 meeting. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Franklin Special School District board of education approved its fiscal year 2020-21 budget during a July 20 meeting. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)

Despite a tough financial year for the district, the Franklin Special School District approved a flat tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21 during its July 20 board meeting.

Residents who pay property taxes to FSSD will continue to pay the same rate of $0.829 per $100 assessed value, according to the district.

During the meeting, the board also approved its FY 2020-21 budget, which includes some financial losses as compared to the year prior, particularly from sales tax revenue and state funding.

The projected expenditures for FY 2019-20 total $89.62 million, and projected revenue totals $89.5 million, creating a budget gap of just over $115,400, according to budget documents.

The district has planned to reduce spending in a number of areas, including in some education and instruction areas as well as transportation.


However, the district is also projecting to see some decreases in revenue compared to last year.

The district's budget is projecting a $40,000 decrease in prior year property tax revenue and is also planning for no increase in local sales tax revenue. Additionally, FSSD's budget includes a $36,000 decrease in state funding, including a $27,000 decrease in the Tennessee Basic Education Program, which is the funding formula the state uses to distribute state education dollars to Tennessee schools, according to the Tennessee Department of Education.

While the board did not discuss the budget in depth during the July 20 meeting, the board held workshop meetings to discuss the budget during May and June. During those meetings, David Esslinger, associate director of schools for finance and administration, said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of financial uncertainty and that the district was projecting some sales tax and property tax losses at that time.

This year's budget faces the same issue seen during FY 2019-20: revenue falling short of projections. Last year, FSSD used some its fund reserves to cover the shortfall.

As of July 1, the district's projected fund balance was $25.5 million, according to budget documents.

As the residents in the district and Williamson County continue to face financial challenges due to the coronavirus, FSSD board members praised finance staff for finding a way to keep the tax rate flat despite seeing losses during the 2019-20 school year.

"I just appreciate the hard work that went in that we were able to maintain the same tax rate and still get done what we need to get done during these difficult times," board member Robin Newman said.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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