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Front Page August 8, 2017  RSS feed

Buffalo school board oks tax swap election

By Mac Shadix


The Buffalo Independent School District Board of Directors heard a tax workshop presentation from Region VI Specialist Johnny Zolman. Left to right: Monty McGill, John Rodell, Pat Bell, Secretary Bobby Fishbeck, Superintendent Lacy Freeman, President Jennifer Humphries and Vice President Jack Helmcamp. 
Photo by Mac Shadix The Buffalo Independent School District Board of Directors heard a tax workshop presentation from Region VI Specialist Johnny Zolman. Left to right: Monty McGill, John Rodell, Pat Bell, Secretary Bobby Fishbeck, Superintendent Lacy Freeman, President Jennifer Humphries and Vice President Jack Helmcamp. Photo by Mac Shadix The Buffalo school board met in a special called meeting on August 7, 2017 at the Buffalo High School. The meeting was a budget workshop and Region VI Specialist John Zolman presented a review of the districts financial position for the last several years. The thing that stood out the most from his presentation was the rapid drop in taxable evaluation. This is accounted for by the decline of the oil patch in Leon County. It was also made clear that debt service had been nibbling into operating accounts due to the Interest and Sinking (I&S) fund remaining at its current rate for several years. Zolman attempted to explain the complicated interactions of the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) and the I&S and state funding levels to the board and the press.

A tax strategy called a tax swap where the M&O is raised and the I&S is lowered with the resulting tax rate remaining unchanged but yielding approximately $136,000 in additional funds from the state for the use of BISD this year met the approval of the school board and after a motion by Secretary Bobby Fishbeck and a second by President Jennifer Humphries the necessary election to go forward with the plan was set for November. The vote was unanimous. The additional funding will continue annually at some level while current state tax laws and fund interactions remain the same.

BISD Tax Administrator Carolyn Ballard who usually prepares the tax statements by hand for a good savings for the district told the board that statements would be delayed because they could not go out until after the election and that because of the time crunch they would have to be prepared by a commercial firm.

The notice of public meeting to discuss the budget and tax rate is printed on page 9 in this weeks Buffalo Press and contains the numbers that are under consideration. The notice also contains the Bonded indebtedness of the district as well as the M&O fund balance. Zolman praised the BISD M&O fund balance saying that it was above two thirds of the annual operating budget and that most districts maintained about six months worth with many falling to three months.

In other action the board approved the interior finishing bids for the Casey Ag Center. Out of three bids, 3D Construction was the lowest bidder and was awarded the job. As reported in the notice on page 9, August the 21 at 6 p.m. was set for the public budget meeting to be followed by a 6:30 board meeting. Public participation in the discussion is invited. The law firm currently providing legal services to the district was retained despite an increase in rates. “I try to call them only as a last resort.” Superintendent Lacy Freeman told the board. 51 transfer students from outside the district who had already been signed off on by the principles were approved by the board. “Having more kids at desks is good.” Freeman quipped.

Freeman recommended to the board that they join up to ten other school districts to hire Zolman as a financial consultant at an annual fee of $2400. Zolman is retiring from his current job. This fee is in line with what other districts pay for consultants Freeman told the board. Zolman was approved for the position.

The board went into executive session to consider Superintendent recommendations regarding employment and contract status of teachers, counselors and nurse and to consider superintendent recommendations regarding STAAR/Retention Incentive.


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