Clear Creek ISD projects $13.4M shortfall, tax rate decrease for 2024-25 fiscal year

ByHaley Velasco Community Impact Newspaper logo
Sunday, June 9, 2024 11:46PM
Tap for ABC13 Houston 24/7 Live Stream
Watch Eyewitness News and ABC13 originals around the clock

LEAGUE CITY, Texas -- Clear Creek ISD's fiscal year 2024-25 budget is expected to have a shortfall of $13.4 million as well as a tax rate decrease of about 0.8%.

What's happening?

At a work session meeting June 6, district officials said they are projecting about $386 million in revenue for FY 2024-25. This would be about a $2.2 million decrease from FY 2023-24, according to district documents.

Meanwhile, CCISD projects expenses of about $400.2 million, a decrease of just under $10.1 million from FY 2023-24, according to district documents.

CCISD's projected tax rate for FY 2024-25 is $0.9669 per $100 valuation, according to district documents. This projected tax rate is 0.8% lower than the FY 2023-24 tax rate of $0.9746 per $100 valuation.

Diving in deeper

CCISD Chief Financial Officer Alice Benzaia presented the following budget challenges the district is facing:

  • Projected decrease in student enrollment by 319 students for the 2024-25 school year

  • Inflated costs for fuel, property and casualty insurance

  • Inadequate funding to meet student needs

  • Inability to recruit and retain quality staff

  • Potential risk of sustainability for current programs

In addition to staffing challenges, while the district's tuition-based pre-K program has brought in $600,000 in revenue, Benzaia said that more staffing has been required due to the growth of the program, which ultimately leads to the need for more funding.

Board trustee Jamieson Mackay said he believes the district should closely evaluate and strategically plan the future of programs such as the tuition-based pre-K program.

"I like the fact that we're going to offer this, but it can't afford to run at a loss, and a majority of those pre-K students were going to come to us anyway," Mackay said at the meeting. "It's a nice thing to do but if it runs at a loss for however many years; given our budget situation, that's a problem."

What else?

The $13.4 million shortfall also includes a 2% general pay increase, which would cost the district about $6.9 million, Benzaia said at the meeting.

The district is also considering increasing its pay for health insurance by $11 per month for coverage for employees only, which could cost $300,000. A stipend increase is also being considered for speech language pathologists, and various academic, fine arts and athletics positions, totaling to $400,000, according to district documents.

The potential compensation and benefits increase will be voted on by the board of trustees at its July 8 workshop or July 22 board meeting, according to district documents.

What are the options?

Benzaia listed the following options for FY 2024-25 to maintain a balanced budget:

  • Use the general fund balance, which is projected to be about $67 million

  • Use the Capital & Contingency fund balance of $5.5 million

  • Eliminate the potential salary increase and only provide raises to employees on a teacher salary schedule, reducing the budget deficit by $5.8 million

  • Possible Voter Approved Tax Rate Election, or VATRE, in November

Among the options, the district also has the following goals board members said they would like to achieve for FY 2024-25:

  • Manage the district's resources efficiently and effectively, including identifying ways to increase revenues and/or decrease expenditures to achieve a balanced budget by FY 2025-26

  • Retain the 5% local homestead exemption

  • Maximize the eight enrichment pennies acquired from board approval and the November 2023 VATRE election, which yields $3 million in tax revenue each plus $3 million in state enrichment funds, totaling $6 million

  • Use a realistic Average Daily Attendance rate for the fiscal year assuming an enrollment loss of 319 students

  • Meet budget requirements without accessing more than 20% of capital and contingency reserve funds

What happens next?

A public hearing to discuss the budget and tax rate will be held at the board meeting July 22, according to district documents.

Further discussion on the budget will be at the board's August workshop meeting, and a budget hearing and adoption of the FY 2024-25 general fund will be at the board's August meeting. Both dates are currently unspecified.

This article comes from our ABC13 partners at Community Impact Newspapers.