The Brownwood Independent School District is beginning its 2009-2010 fiscal year with a fund balance of almost $5 million, larger than school officials had anticipated, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Gabaree told trustees Monday.

School board members moved through a series of unanimous votes at a called meeting that adopted budgets and tax rates for the 2009-2010 school year that began Tuesday, and finalized the 2008-2009 budget.

“We were close on most (functions), and off on a few, but I feel real good about it,” Gabaree said.

The district’s fund balance going into the new fiscal year is $4.845,019, Gabaree said.

“That is a good fund balance for all we’re done,” he added. “We will have to designate about $1.3 million for future construction needs.” The state recommends that the district carry over an undesignated fund balance in the $3.5 million range.

“There was a time during the past year when we thought our fund balance would only be $3.5 million,” Dr. Reece Blincoe, superintendent, said.

Helping the bottom line will be money put aside for renovations and construction at Northwest Elementary School that will not be spent.

“Paul Waldrop is to be commended,” Gabaree said of the district’s construction manager for projects under way over the past four years. “There are about $100,000 in contingencies that will not be spent. Waldrop Construction in its integrity made sure we were returned those funds. Some contractors will find a way to keep those dollars.”

The board adopted three budgets for the 2009-2010 school year, which total $29,491.077. Those are the general fund of $24,908,721, food service fund of $1,604,781 and debt service fund of $2,977,575.

The total of all three budgets is up from the $29,177,189 adopted a year ago.

The $1.04 per $100 valuation tax rate for maintenance and operations adopted Monday is unchanged, but the interest and sinking, or debt service, tax rate is up from $0.2307 to $0.2794. Gabaree said at an earlier meeting that a reduction in funds from a state debt allotment will require the district to pay more interest this year.

Trustees Justin Murphy and John Nickols pointed out that the board had reduced the debt service tax rate significantly two years ago, deciding to levy a tax that collected only what was needed rather than maintain the higher level. The new rate is still lower than the amount levied the first year debt service for bonds for the 2005 issue were included.

To comply with a new requirement in the tax code, the board also adopted an effective tax rate that is the rate calculated from the rate that would have been used to generate the same amount of revenue as last year. That rate is $1.3194, a 2.4 percent increase from the $1.2876 tax rate as calculated by the Brown County Appraisal District.

“We’d like to commend all of you who worked on the budget,” Nickols told Gabaree, business manager Ed Sorola and others in the business office.

“We really need to thank Nelda Cockerham for staying with us over the summer when she didn’t have to,” Gabaree said. Cockerham has retired after 27 years of service to the school district, and with time off she has accumulated, she could have left the district several weeks ago.