Conroe ISD Board, administration seek to raise taxes, despite statewide property tax reform, to trick citizens into paying for rejected bond projects

Conroe ISD Board, administration seek to raise taxes, despite statewide property tax reform, to trick citizens into paying for rejected bond projects

Conroe, July 29 – If you thought voters successfully defeated Conroe Independent School District’s (CISD) bloated and unnecessary $807 million bond package and thereby avoided the massive tax increase that would have come along with it, think again. On Monday, July 29, 2019, at 6 p.m. the Conroe Independent School District’s Board of Trustees will hear a presentation from the school district’s administration, which tells them how to think and vote, and which will likely result in a tax increase for CISD taxpayers, despite the relief from statewide property tax reform during the 86th Legislative Session from Senate Bill 2 and House Bill, both of which Governor Greg Abbott signed into law.

Two sources from inside CISD’s administration have confirmed to The Golden Hammer that the administration intends on telling the Board of Trustees to pass a 4.5 cent increase in the debt service, so that they can campaign for another school bond referendum in November, 2019, without a threatened tax increase tied to the bond. The sources requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, but both are high-level officers within the administration of CISD.

Although statewide property tax reform would have given taxpayers some relief in the form of “compression” of the maintenance and operations portion of the CISD’s tax rate, currently $1.28 per $100 valuation with $1.22 being maintenance and operations, with the increase in the debt service tax rate and increases in property tax appraisals through the CISD-controlled Montgomery Central Appraisal District, CISD taxpayers will actually suffer a tax increase in Fiscal Year 2020 with enormous tax increases in Fiscal Year 2022, which will likely be far higher than would have occurred if the May 4, 2019, bond referendum had passed.

Voters rejected CISD’s $807 million bond package by a 54% to 46% margin, mostly because (1) the bond projects are unnecessary, (2) the school district’s growth will not reach school capacity requiring new schools until 2028 by current demographic projections, and (3) citizens didn’t want to suffer the massive tax increase CISD intended to impose as part of the bond package.

Regardless of the outcome of the May 4 election, the wild-spending CISD Board of Trustees, which blindly seems to follow administration directions, will likely increase the debt service portion of CISD taxes more than CISD had even projected to increase them if the bond had passed. CISD has pushed very aggressively for appraisal increases in order to increase taxes. The May 4 bond would have brought a 3 cent tax increase in the debt service portion of CISD’s tax rate. Instead, the Board of Trustees, by fiat, will vote for a 4.5 cent tax rate as part of the “budget.”

It’s all a trick, so that CISD can feed its money-hungry vendors, especially PBK Architects, which provides CISD political consulting as well as acting as the lead architect on most of CISD’s lucrative and bloated construction projects.

CISD provided a presentation to the Board on June 4, 2019, in which it made clear it needed the Board to increase the tax rate for debt service to fund capital projects. A page of the presentation follows.

CISD administration presentation on June 4, 2019, directing the Board of Trustees to raise the debt service rate by 4.5 cents.

What CISD is trying to claim is a “tax rate reduction” is actually a tax increase, because, remember, the reduction in the maintenance and operations rate under the statewide property tax reform legislation comes through a $5 billion expenditure at the State level, which such expenditure comes from citizens’ tax dollars!

CISD is not tricking many people, however.

“Any CISD Board member who votes to increase the debt service the way the administration is proposing, i.e., by 4.5 cents, should look for a new job as of the November 2020 election,” said Jon Bouche, Chairman of the Freedom and Liberty Conservatives PAC, a citizen advocacy and reform organization in Montgomery County, which campaigned intensely during the 2018 Primary, Runoff, and General Elections.

“Any CISD Board member who votes to increase the debt service the way the administration is proposing, i.e., by 4.5 cents, should look for a new job as of the November 2020 election,” said Jon Bouche, Chairman of the Freedom and Liberty Conservatives PAC.

Jon Bouche, Freedom and Liberty Conservatives PAC Chairman, Precinct 35 Republican Chairman, Montgomery County Republican Party Steering Committee member, and member of the Board of Directors of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.

After CISD has increased the debt service portion of citizens’ school taxes by 4.5 cents, CISD’s and the blogs’ statements to the public that the school district is “lowering” taxes is completely false. It’s important to remember that the actual taxes you pay are the product (multiplication) of two numbers: the tax rate multiplied by your property tax appraisal for your home.

It’s important to note that CISD plans to increase spending by $34.36 million for the next Fiscal Year. That money doesn’t come from a stork in the sky either.

Property tax appraisals in CISD have risen 5.73% approximately during the past year. So let’s take an example of someone who owns a home which began with a $250,000 property tax appraisal.

During the previous school year, that person would pay school taxes as follows:

$250,000 Property Tax Appraisal x $1.28 per $100 valuation Tax Rate = $3,200. 

The taxpayer would pay $3,200 in school taxes on their $250,000 home.

Now, however, let’s examine what will happen for the next Fiscal Year. First, the property tax appraisal has risen by 5.73% to $264,325. Second, CISD’s tax rate will be $1.235 per $100 valuation.

During the next school year, that person would pay school taxes as follows:

$264,325 Property Tax Appraisal x $1.235 per $100 valuation Tax Rate = $3,264.42 !!!

Guess what? Thanks to the greed – and poor fiscal management – of CISD, property taxpayers will have suffer an INCREASE in school property taxes under the so-called “property tax reform” and “school finance reform.”

Sadly, although voters might want to see a rabbit pulled from a hat, CISD’s administration and Board will produce a nightmare of taxation.

 

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