Friendswood ISD trustees set date for 2017-18 budget talks, tax rate approval

At the July 17 board meeting, the Friendswood ISD school board set its 2017-18 budget talks and public hearings on the proposed tax rate on August 14.

The board finalized the proposed property tax rate of $1.367 per $100 valuation, which is a two-cent decrease over last year. The proposed tax rate comprises $1.13 for maintenance and operations and $.237 for debt service.

Terrell Palmer, financial advisor for the district, told the board that its options were to either decrease the tax rate by two cents or pay off $500,000 in bonds before their maturity. FISD trustee Tony Hopkins said that the board can do both.

“I may be misquoting it, but in the words of Yogi Bear, ‘When you get to a fork in the road, sometimes you just have to take it.’ I think we can do both,” Hopkins said.

FISD Board President Rebecca Hillenburg focused on the two-cent decrease and wanted to revisit whether to pay off the bonds early when more board members were present. Three of the seven trustees were absent, including Laura Seifert, Matt Robinson and Robert McCabe.

“I am very comfortable with the two-cent [decrease],” Hillenburg said. “I would rather make a decision on the pennies and let the communities know and see their reception on it.”

In addition to the proposed tax rate, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Connie Morgenroth presented the proposed budget at the July 17 meeting.

The proposed budget is $49.6 million. The district is considering adding $750,000 to the budget, for a total budget of $50.4 million. The funds would come out of the district’s surplus reserves. While Morgenroth is planning for the additional cushion, she doesn’t foresee the district spending the full $50.4 million during the 2017-18 school year.

“I don’t think we will be spending the full surplus. We usually make up that amount,” Morgenroth said.

Morgenroth thinks that the budget might be lower even by the time she presents it to the board during the public hearings on August 14.

“With the conservative approach you have shown us in the past years, I feel confident with a 99 percent budget,” Hillenburg said.
By Haley Morrison
Haley Morrison came to Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after graduating from Baylor University. She was promoted to editor in February 2019. Haley primarily covers city government.