Health care, bond and budget: What you missed at Katy ISD this week

Several topics were discussed at Monday's Katy ISD board of trustees workshop. Here are some of the major agenda items that were presented to the district's leaders: 

  1. Employee health care update shows rising costs

Lance Neuman, Katy ISD director of risk management, told the board that based on 2017 health care expenditures, the district could expect a $2.4 million deficit for 2018. He said the cost of claims by plan members is outweighing their contributions due to rising spousal coverage costs, high-cost claimants with increasing numbers of long-term health conditions, costs driven by population and requirements, as a result, of the Affordable Care Act.

Neuman also said costs are rising in part because plan beneficiaries are choosing stand-alone emergency rooms over urgent care centers, the latter of which is less expensive with regard to KISD’s plan from Mercer. The district will make a greater effort to inform employees of the price difference going forward, he said.

  1. Board receives bond proposal

Keith Carmichael, chairman of the district’s 2017 bond committee, presented the $609.2 million package to trustees Monday. The deadline to vote on a November ballot referendum for the bond is Aug. 21, and trustees were largely complimentary of the proposal.

“I’ve never opposed a bond initiative that dealt with schools,” trustee George Scott said. “This bond deals with schools."

By comparison, Scott said he was critical of the district’s 2014 bond, which contained the Legacy Stadium project. The board plans to hear public discussion at its July 24 meeting.

KISD Chief Financial Officer Chris Smith said the district is not asking for a tax rate increase to fund the new bond. But if approved by voters, the bond would extend the time needed to pay off KISD’s debt from about 2048 to 2051, Smith said.

  1. Budget workshop and public hearing planned

KISD will hold a workshop and public hearing on its 2017-18 budget and district tax rate Aug. 21. Both will be voted on in September, Smith said.

Nothing has been finalized, but the district is so far looking at an operating budget just over $600 million for the next school year. Smith said the district does not plan to ask for a tax rate increase from the current rate of $1.5166 per $100 valuation.