Publisher’s Note: Kelli Cook is the Gulf Coast Regional Coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty, Finance Committee Chair of the Montgomery County Republican Party, and Victory 2020 Steering Committee Co-Chair for the Montgomery County Republican Party. Cook served as the Director of Operations for the Children’s Hope PAC in the May 4, 2019, bond referendum, which went down to defeat, thanks to Cook and her team.
Cook made these comments at the Conroe Independent School District Board meeting last night, Tuesday, August 13, 2019. The Board ignored Cook and the others who spoke against another bond referendum, including Republican Party Treasurer John Hill Wertz, conservative Republican activist Andy de la Flor. The Board clearly had decided to follow the instructions of the CISD administration. In the entire process, there was never any presentation by any Board member or school official about arguments not to order the bond election.
Cook’s remarks follow.
“Good evening, CISD Board Members. My name is Kelli Cook, I am here today to encourage you to hold off on calling a bond, until a few other matters are settled. Taxpayers are anxiously awaiting the budget hearing outcomes to see if they will be allowed to reap some of the rewards of the statewide property tax reform bill. Many of us fought tooth and nail for this. First by adding to the Republican Party Platform the language urging the state to use surplus revenue to buy down the school’s M & O tax rate. Then we worked to make it a reality in the 86th Legislative Session.
“Word on the street is, folks will be getting a much-needed tax break next year, because that is what the state intended. Taxpayers are expecting this. You can join in the efforts and make this a reality or you can stand in the way.
“If CISD board members adopt a rate that is above the effective tax rate of 1.2344, more money will be collected than last year. People will be writing a bigger check…again. The statewide property tax relief will be gobbled up.
“The plans to raise the I & S rate before the bond, so you can claim the new bond won’t raise taxes, is not entirely truthful but a pre-emptive strike against the people. The fund balance money could be used instead to service the debt and you could leave the rate at .22. That would actually offer REAL tax relief. Here is your opportunity to earn the trust of the community.
“Tax rates are only half of the equation, the other half is the predatory appraisals board, where CISD controls the majority of the seats. Are people to expect their appraisals to go up another 6-7 percent AGAIN? This is the reason taxpayers from all over the county care about this issue. This is why volunteers from Willis, Montgomery, East County and Magnolia came out to work to defeat the last bond. CISD’s influence on the Appraisal Board is dragging up appraisals all over and people are sick and tired of it.
“All the Taxed Enough Already voters are going to be out in force to defeat the State Wide Income Tax referendum in November. The Childrens Hope PAC and all the volunteers that were attracted to the effort to rein in the school districts’ budgets, who impose the lion’s share of property taxes, will be out again if a bond is called before you get the budget kinks worked out and you prohibit the tax relief the state intended.
“It appears you are rushing to call the bond before you even finish the budget hearings and before the new Bond Transparency Bill- SB 30 – takes effect on September 1 that would force school districts to disclose much more information to the voters at the ballot box, such as the taxes sufficient to pay the principal and interest on the debt.
“In closing, I hope you will consider NOT calling a bond, until after the budget hearings are complete next week and you have figured out a way for folks to get the property tax relief the state intended. And wait until SB 30 takes effect in 2 weeks, so the voters will have a more transparent bond process. Informed voters make better decisions.”