Paradise ISD faces some formidable challenges following a tough defeat at the polls Tuesday.
PISD’s proposed 8-cent tax increase lost by 46 votes and the bond failed by 67 votes.
The current tax rate will remain at $1.04 for maintenance and operations and 30 cents for the interest and sinking (debt service) fund.
Board places 6 and 7 were also up for grabs but were so close that provisional ballots still to be counted could swing the outcomes. The earliest official results will be announced Wednesday, Nov. 13. Superintendent Monty Chapman said the board will canvass the results Thursday, Nov. 14.
A $1,000 bonus for PISD staff members faces the ax, as it was contingent on the new tax rate passing. The bonus was to be distributed this month.
FACING DOWN A DEFICIT
Chapman said now that the school can’t count on any new dollars from a tax increase, he has to begin crunching the numbers and produce an adjusted budget for the board’s consideration.
The district faces a possible $300,000 budget deficit that would have been remedied by the tax increase, but Chapman will find out what the actual deficit might be and come up with options to balance the budget.
During the budget development process in July and August, the board discussed several options besides a tax increase, which included possible staff and program reductions. They also discussed absorbing the deficit by paying for it with fund balance money.
“I see us being very frugal,” Chapman said. “I don’t see a lot of adjustment from now to the end of the school year. We have programs already in place.”
Chapman said it is likely the board will opt to absorb what deficit there is in the budget.
Paradise taxpayers have not seen an M&O tax increase in at least a decade.
WITHOUT THE BOND
PISD’s previous bond proposal in 2008 won with 194 votes to 114.
This $3.25 million bond proposal was earmarked to improve and update the district’s aging wastewater treatment plant, add onto the plant, purchase buses, repair or replace the roof at Paradise Intermediate School, upgrade the HVAC system at Paradise Elementary and repair roads on the campus.
One of the more expensive items in the list is the wastewater treatment plant. It is also one of the most pressing, as improvements have to be made to meet permitting requirements set by the state.
The plant has been in place for decades and also serves as an essential service provider for several nearby homes.
The district’s current permit expires December 2016. While that seems distant, the process has to begin soon.
“A permit takes about nine to 12 months just to get through TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality),” Chapman said. “Add on construction and the timeline shrinks. We are getting close to the moving forward stage.”
The board will meet Nov. 18 to discuss how the district will proceed and possibly make some decisions about what it will do.