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TSPR

Strayhorn issues progress report on San Angelo ISD

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn reported in August that San Angelo Independent School District (SAISD) had implemented or was implementing 103 of the 112 recommendations she offered the district in an August 2001 Texas School Performance Review (TSPR).

"To date, SAISD has achieved more than $8.6 million in savings and estimates five-year savings will total more than $42.1 million--that's about $3.2 million more than my TSPR team's original savings estimate," Strayhorn said. "This $8.6 million realized so far is money that can be redirected into San Angelo ISD classrooms to improve education."

In March 2001, Strayhorn began a review of SAISD after receiving complaints from concerned citizens and a request for a review from former State Rep. Rob Junell. The final report, released in August 2001, detailed 112 recommendations for improvements and estimated net savings of $38.7 million by 2005-06. In December 2002, TSPR returned to assess the district's progress in implementing those recommendations.

AWARDS

Comptroller wins award for new technology

In August, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's Enforcement Division earned the 2003 Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications Excellence Award for using innovative wireless technology to automate and enhance enforcement activities, increasing delinquent tax collection by $4.7 million during May and June.

The new technology allows the Comptroller's enforcement field collectors to remotely view taxpayer information; document collection activity; and print vital tax information using a wireless tablet computer and bubble-jet printer. As a result, field staff can increase field time and productivity to provide more timely taxpayer service and improve tax compliance.

The Comptroller's office implemented the technology on April 1, 2003. The technology's wireless capabilities allowed Strayhorn's enforcement collection staff to spend more time in the field.

SALES TAXES

Historic down spiral in July sales tax receipts

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn had bad economic news for Texans in August. Strayhorn reported that July state sales tax collections were down 4.6 percent compared with a year ago. The 4.6 percent decline means Texas collected $55.8 million less than in July 2002. The significant drop ranks as the third-worst single month decline for Texas in the last 10 years.

"This is very negative news." Strayhorn said. "When the sales tax catches a cold, our state gets pneumonia. We've had a decline in sales tax collections for 12 of the last 13 months. This unfortunate, historic drop of 4.6 percent shows that our Texas economy remains weak and there is still no turnaround in sight."

"Another unfortunate historic first, we are going to have back-to-back two consecutive years loss in sales tax revenue," Strayhorn said.

TSPR

$1.3 million savings for Venus ISD

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn released a comprehensive Texas School Performance Review of Venus Independent School District (VISD) in August outlining 56 recommendations that could save taxpayers a gross of more than $3.4 million, with net savings of more than $1.3 million over the next five years.

VISD is still recovering from a nearly $1.2 million loss in state aid and local tax revenue in 2001-02, because the district lowered its maintenance and operations tax rate in 2001. From 1997-98 to 2002-03, VISD's enrollment increased by 44 percent.

"I want to help Venus ISD overcome these challenges and reach its full potential," Strayhorn said.