Forsan ISD looking at tax increase

FORSAN — A new elementary school is about to go up in Forsan. Not surprisingly, so is district taxpayers' bills.Forsan Independent School District officials are putting the final touches on a new budget that features employee pay raises, deficit spending and a notable spike in the tax rate.When district voters approved a $23 million construction bond earlier this year, they also voted themselves a tax increase to pay for the improvements, and that process will begin when trustees formally approve the new budget and tax rate Tuesday.FISD Superintendent Randy Johnson will recommend a tax rate of $1.389 per $100 property valuation, an increase of about 34 cents from the previous budget. All of that increase, he said, will be go toward servicing the debt from the construction bond.Even though the increase in notable, it is not as high as officials first calculated.“When we were talking to voters before the bond election, we estimated the tax rate would increase by 37 cents,” Johnson said. “So, the new tax rate is considerably less than what we originally estimated.”While the tax rate was at least expected, property valuations proved to be an unwelcome surprise for the district.“We lost 27 percent of our mineral valuations from last year,” Johnson said. “That was a huge, unexpected hit.”With the drop in valuations comes a corresponding loss of potential tax revenue. Johnson said the district partially compensated by making cuts in several budget areas, but in the end, trustees will be asked to adopt a budget with a built-in deficit of between $500,000 and $700,000.“We've made some minor cuts in a variety of areas, but some of (the deficit) we're going to have to eat,” Johnson said. “That will come out of reserve funds (but) we certainly hope to save a little money here and there so the dip into the fund balance will be less than anticipated.”