AP NEWS

Thanks Hurricane Harvey: Fort Bend ISD facing $12 million budget shortfall next year

December 12, 2017

With more than 60 campuses damaged by Hurricane Harvey, Fort Bend ISD trustees now face a projected $12 million shortfall in next year’s budget.

If the approved 2018-19 budget includes a salary increase for district staffers, the deficit could increase another $8 million or more, FBISD budget director Bryan Guinn told trustees recently.

The main factor driving up district expenditures involves repairs to 66 schools damaged during Hurricane Harvey. Early estimates indicate repairs added approximately $16 million to the current year’s budget, Guinn said at the Oct. 23 board meeting.

“The FEMA reimbursement process could take several years and the district will have to bridge the gap until then,” Guinn said.

Last June, trustees approved a 2017-18 budget that included general fund expenditures totaling approximately $630.3 million and revenues of roughly $619.8 million. To cover the budget shortfall at that time, board members voted to take approximately $11.96 million from the district’s rainy-day fund.

Since then, Guinn told trustees a district-wide effort has been launched to gather ideas and suggestions as to possible budget cuts ahead of next year’s planning process. Some ideas proposed included increased energy conservation efforts, careful planning to reduce training costs and not providing snacks and meals during staff meetings and not filling vacant positions when possible.

Trustee Grayle James asked Guinn what the projected budget shortfall would be in next year’s budget calculations.

If trustees approve a budget that includes a two percent salary increase for district employees, the budget shortfall would total approximately $20 million, Guinn said. If no salary increases are included, the budget deficit would total roughly $12 million. According to 2017-18 budget documents posted on the district website, employee salary increases and adjustments totaled $20,648,919 last year.

District administrators are expected to finalize a list of proposed budget cuts in January. Trustees will begin budget workshop discussions next March.