Underwood said this year’s tax base had a big change, coming in at over $2.7 billion. Last year was $1.36 billion, preceded by $580 million and $385 million.
“Percentage-wise and value-wise, very few schools experience that,” Underwood said.
He said that 10 different mineral companies represent half the taxes paid in McMullen County.
“We need to consider if something went wrong with one of those companies,” Underwood told the board as they looked at the 2013-14 budget proposal on Aug. 15.
McMullen County’s collection rate has traditionally been 100 percent, but this year, the county is at 99 percent.
“We’re starting to see that trend with more taxes and more people,” Underwood said. “We can’t sit here and figure our collection at 100 percent. Prior to this year, we could say 99 out of 100 times that everyone paid their taxes.”
The current estimated recapture the district will have to pay back to the state is $20 million, leaving the district with $7 million to operate for the year. Underwood said they won’t know the official amount until the first day of school when students arrive. He said the more students they have enrolled, the less money they have to send back to the state.
But, the district is almost filled to capacity.
As of last week, McMullen ISD had 260 enrolled for the upcoming year and was only accepting out-of-district transfers for fifth, seventh and 12th grades. Some of their class sizes are up to 25 students.
Underwood said class sizes have grown rapidly in recent years for some of the grades. This year’s fifth grade only had two students when they were in second grade and has since increased to 12 students.
Despite the increase, federal funding only represents a small piece of the pie for McMullen ISD’s budget at $88,000.
The budget proposal left breathing room for the upcoming year in case the district continues to grow and additional staffing or supplies are needed or other costs arise. Underwood said it left room to add two additional teachers, an aide, maintenance worker, custodian and other personnel and operational expenses.
“I think it’s good to budget it in there rather than amend it (the budget) later,” Underwood said.
The decreased tax rate proposal includes maintenance and operation, and interest and sinking tax (ISN).
Although the school district’s budget proposal is lower than last year’s, it might not necessarily mean lower property taxes overall if property values increased. If a property’s value remains unchanged from last year, the proposal would mean lower property taxes paid out.
The next McMullen ISD board meeting is set for Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m.