Comal Independent School District trustees will meet twice on Thursday, which will begin with an update on the 2021 bond and end with a public hearing and vote to approve the district’s $322.2 million 2021-22 budget.
“In the morning we'll be having a workshop to discuss the bond we're looking at for November 2021, and in the evening we will be having a regular meeting to adopt the budget,” said Steve Stanford, the district’s executive communications director, who will present the update on the measure that will likely total more than $500 million, separated into four propositions.
“There will not be any action on the bond, just a discussion among the board members,” he said. “We have to call the bond by Aug. 16, so really this is just getting it down I'm closer to finalizing it and just putting the final touches with what trustees would like to see.”
At 6 p.m. they will meet in regular session, highlighted by a public hearing for the proposed budget and tax rate.
The proposed budget allots $232,107,893 for maintenance and operations (M&O), $78,482,105 for interest and sinking (debt service), and $11,629,083 for child nutrition. The budget is required to be adopted before the new fiscal year begins on Thursday, July 1.
The proposed 2021-22 tax rates, $0.8720 for maintenance and operations and $0.35 for interest and sinking (I&S) for a combined rate of $1.220 per assessed $100 property value, will be presented for consideration at the Sept. 21 board meeting.
If the board adopts a tax rate that exceeds the district’s voter-approval tax rate, the district has until Aug. 16 to set a voter-approved tax ratification election (VATRE), which is required by state law.
On June 10, trustees discussed the proposed budget and requested a compensation plan that included a $1.50 hourly increase for auxiliary and instructional paraprofessional employees, and a 3% increase for all other employee groups to take effect if a VATRE is approved this fall.
“Under current revenue projections, the district is unable to address student growth and provide compensation increases to district employees,” the meeting agenda memo said. “To address these needs, the board has also reviewed the possibility of calling a VATRE.
“In the event a VATRE is called by the board and approved by the district’s voters, additional revenue will be generated. The board can provide how that additional revenue will be used through a resolution.”
Before they approve the budget, trustees on Thursday will approve a resolution authorizing the VATRE to compensate employees and provide class-size relief. They will also approve another resolution authorizing defeasance of $17.5 million in bond debt to provide additional savings and maintain the current I&S rate of $.035 per $100 property valuation.
The district’s financial advisor and bond counsel identified Series 2015 bonds for refunding on a tax-exempt basis beginning 90 days prior to the call date on Feb. 1, 2023.
“Trustees will consider a defeasance measure to reduce some of the previous outstanding debt of previous bonds,” Stanford said. “It allows us to pay off that debt a lot earlier. Since 2004, similar measures have saved the district more than $160 million.”
Trustees on Thursday will also consider extending the district’s food service contract with Chartwells, approving additional funds for winter storm damages, service allotments for state-required measures, monthly financial reports, materials and equipment purchases.
Trustees meet at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday in the district’s Support Services Building board room, 1404 Interstate 35 North in New Braunfels. For more, visit the district’s website, comalisd.org.