Image: On the direction of the Conroe Independent School District’s administration, its Board of Trustees tentatively consented to a new $683 bond package which the school district will place on the November 5, 2019, General Election ballot. Rather than including the tax increase for this massive bond package as part of the referendum, the administration has directed the Board of Trustees to raise the debt service rate by 4.5 cents per $100 valuation. The bond package will require substantial property tax appraisal increases of approximately 5% per year as well, so taxes will rise substantially more. Left to right during the July 29, 2019, Board meeting, Superintendent Curtis Null, Scott Moore, John Husbands, Scott Kidd, Datren Williams, Skeeter Hubert, and Ray Sanders. With backs to camera were left to right, CISD Chief Financial Office Darren Rice, Assistant Superintendent Chris Hines, and Purchasing Director Easy Foster.
Conroe, July 31 – Through a series of complex financial manipulations, which this newspaper will explain in more detail tomorrow, the Empire Strikes Back! Conroe Independent School District (CISD) will (1) increase taxes this year, despite the chimera of statewide property tax reform, (2) bring massive tax increases over the next few years through a push for property tax appraisal increases through the CISD-controlled Montgomery Central Appraisal District Board of Directors, and (3) CISD will place a $683 million bond package on the November 5, 2019, General Election ballot!
CISD Superintendent Curtis Null, Chief Financial Officer Darren Rice, Assistant Superintendent Chris Hines, and Purchasing and Construction Director Easy Foster directed the CISD Board of Trustees to place two-proposition $683 million bond package on the General Election ballot, so that the school district may proceed with its PBK Architects-driven capital spending projects, which voters rejected by a 54% to 46% vote on May 4, 2019. The Board of Trustees, during a Monday, July 29, 2019, Board meeting obediently followed the direction of the administration and will vote officially to place the propositions on the November General Election ballot most likely at the August 6, 2019, Board meeting at 6 p.m.
How CISD’s second bond attempt differs from the first one
The first of the two propositions is, of course, $23 million for Astro-Turf, which has become the centerpiece of the curricular designs of Null’s brief tenure as Superintendent. The turf would be for outdoor fields for football and other outdoor activities. This newspaper has confirmed that no reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, history, science, English, foreign language, or even fast-food restaurant worker courses will occur on the turf fields.
The second of the two propositions, which CISD’s administration has directed the Board to place on the November ballot, is $660 million. CISD’s Null and its financial officer Rice presented the following slide to explain the differences between the proposed $660 million bond and the $807 million bond which voters rejected.
The differences between the $660 million proposition and the $807 million proposition, which voters rejected, are:
- The Empire allocates $20 million from its fund balance to create a capital maintenance fund of $10 million, purchase land for $8.5 million, and purchase buses for $1.5 million.
- The Empire intends to spend $10 million annually for its capital maintenance fund to pay PBK Architects to profit from exorbitant expenditures of tax dollars.
- The Empire’s Leader, Null, originally proposed reducing the bond by $11.9 million by removing the Conroe High School 9th Grade Campus addition from the package. Datren Williams, CISD’s Board President, has insisted that the taxpayers spend that money and do the remodeling which will not add one additional class seat or add to educational outcomes one iota.
- The Empire will add one new elementary school campus to the bond and extend the bond’s construction campaign to five years, which will likely lead to numerous cost over-runs, which neither Null nor the Board have yet acknowledged. Of course, the demographic study for the May 4 bond revealed that CISD does not require new schools for at least another six years.
- The Empire will remove construction of a plus Teaching Training Center and doing remodeling of what Null claimed was the obsolete Jett Center that Null and the Board previously claimed they intended to “decommission” and yet spend approximately $1.45 million for remodeling nonetheless.
- The Empire will remove a custodial and maintenance facility and the Hauke Building conversion to the capital maintenance fund expenditures. In other words, CISD still doesn’t understand the difference between maintenance expenses and capital projects. Rather than spending the new so-called maintenance fund on maintenance, CISD intends to spend some of those funds on items which are clearly capital projects!
- Since the Empire just added “technology” into the previous bond as fluff, CISD has removed $16 million of that spending garbage from the bond but kept $20 million in it.
- The Empire will finance buses and technology (which usually has a useful life of 5 years) for 10 years.
Conroe ISD will institute a massive tax increase within its Fiscal 2020 Budget without giving voters the opportunity to vote up or down on it. The details of those financial manipulations will appear in tomorrow’s edition of The Golden Hammer. Conroe ISD will then implement one of the largest tax increase campaigns in the history of Montgomery County through property tax appraisal increases without any tax rate reductions to mitigate those increases, because CISD (the Empire) will need funds to pay the massive amount of interest incurred through the proposed bond package.
CISD’s tax rate for Fiscal Year 2020 will actually be higher than the “effective tax rate,” meaning that CISD will wipe out all tax benefits local citizens would receive from the Texas Legislatures passage of Senate Bill 2, the statewide property tax reform legislation, so that CISD taxes will be higher in FY 2019-20 than they were in FY 2018-19.
Publisher’s Note: The Golden Hammer thanks Mrs. Kelli Cook for the brilliant “Star Wars” analogy.