Elected officials with the city and school district are grappling with tighter budgets for the upcoming year and weighing which cuts to make to avoid raising taxes.
Those discussions will continue over the next several weeks as the city must pass a new budget before Oct. 1.
Some cuts already have been recommended and are likely to be painful to some local residents. (See the related story below about proposed layoffs at the county’s Heritage Center and Somervell County Historical Commission.)
City of Glen Rose
At the Glen Rose City Council’s budget retreat last Saturday, members heard reports, requests and suggestions from all boards or committees represented. They also discussed whether to proceed with hiring a city administrator.
The proposed budget includes $70,000 for a city administrator salary, plus a $6,000 car allowance.
Councilman Johnny Martin questioned whether the city needed an administrator or a manager. He said he felt that hiring an administrator would "kind of take the council and mayor" out of the decision-making process.
But to hire a city manager, the city would have to change its form of government, Councilman Bob Stricklin said, while an administrator would be a contract position and serve at the pleasure of the council.
He suggested the city could hire an administrator to "come and clean up processes" and stay in the job temporarily.
The council then could evaluate the person and figure out, "What did we get? Have we had much improvement?"Martin said.
Mayor Jean King suggested putting together a committee of two - Martin and Stricklin - to look into how to structure a city administrator position and report back to the council by September.
Glen Rose Independent School District
Deep state funding cuts for public education mean the Glen Rose ISD will have to trim its budget by $3 million over three years.
“We’ve got to do it and we can get there,” GRISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan told the board at its budget workshop Monday evening.
But as budgets get tighter, class size increases, he added. The options are to add more students or go with fewer teachers. (see the related front-page story about the district’s plans to begin accepting transfer students).
Rotan gave the board his recommendation for cutting more than $866,166 from the 2011-2012 budget. They include absorbing, or not filling, 11.5 open positions.
Other cuts he recommended and their estimated savings are:
*Eliminate one planned school bus purchase. Savings: $100,000
*Lower the teacher attendance incentive from $500 to $400 . Teachers with a 96 percent attendance rate will be issued $400 on Dec. 16. Savings: $35,000
*Reduce overtime. Savings: $30,000
*Reduce local institutional grants. Savings: $25,000
*Reduce contracted maintenance and repair. Savings: $20,000
*Switch the Tiger Tales newsletter from print to online. Savings: $10,000
Campus and departmental budgets also will be reduced under his proposal. Athletics, high school and technology would see $5,000 cuts each, the junior high budget would be reduced by $2,400 and the intermediate and elementary schools both would lose $1,750.
Reducing cafeteria expenses also would cut an additional $25,000
Rotan also proposed not changing the salary schedule for classroom teachers, librarians and nurses this year.
Next year the district hopes to absorb 10 more positions, Rotan said. It also will have to cut an additional $700,000 to $800,000 from its budget.
“Next year is going to be much tighter than this year,” he added.
The state and even other cities have grumbled that GRISD has a tax rate far below the state average of $1.06 per $100 of valuation. But because the district is considered a property-wealthy district by the state, it returns much of its revenues to the state in recapture.
“What people fail to realize is that one penny is recaptured at 81 percent,” Rotan said. “I would be hard-pressed to add a penny to our taxpayers when we will keep only 19 cents on the dollar and send 81 cents back to the state.”