Image: Conroe Independent School District has projected what will happen to taxes after the voters approve the $807 million bond in the May 4 referendum.
Conroe, April 14 – Over the next ten (10) years, Conroe Independent School District (CISD) projects that, if the $807 million bond passes in the May 4 voter referendum, school taxes will increase more than 64.7%, while student enrollment will only increase 21.9% and not even reach the current capacity of CISD schools. That data comes directly from CISD’s bond advocacy website from its financial analysis of the bond and the demographic study the school district commissioned to support the $807 million tax hike.
But what will actually happen, if the $807 million bond passes, according to CISD?
There are three important answers to that question:
- A giant increase in school taxes with immediate rezoning of school attendance;
- CISD will spend at least $807 million, $245 million of which will go to the lawyers, engineers, and architects who are financing the pro-bond political campaign, while CISD will achieve no improvements in educational outcomes;
- CISD will bring another bond before the voters in approximately four (4) years, so that CISD’s current financial projects are actually a floor for increased taxes.
Giant increase in school taxes with immediate rezoning of school attendance
CISD’s Superintendent, Curtis Null, informed Montgomery County government officials in late January, 2019, and early February, 2019, in at least three separate meetings concerning the $807 million bond package, that CISD will institute a major rezoning of school attendance for the 2019-2020 academic year, regardless of whether or not the bond passes.
In fact, CISD’s January, 2019, demographic study has maps showing portions of the planned rezoning towards the end of the document.
What CISD’s taxpayers should also consider, however, is the impact on taxes from the $807 million bond’s passage. CISD seeks to obfuscate the tax hike discussion with its claim that the tax rate will only increase by 3 cents in the school district’s financial projections shown at the top of this article. The tax rate, however, is only a part of the equation, which determines the amount of taxes an individual property tax payer actually pays.
The full equation follows:
(Tax Rate) x (Property Tax Appraisal) = School Taxes Payable.
CISD has been quiet, yet clear, what its projections are about school taxes during the next ten years, as the financial projection at the top of this article makes clear. While the tax rate will grow 3 cents per $100 valuation, CISD will push the Montgomery Central Appraisal District (MCAD) to increase property tax valuations by much larger amounts at a far faster rate of growth. CISD largely controls MCAD’s Board of Directors which sets property tax re-appraisal policy.
To understand the tax increase citizens should expect from CISD $807 million bond, here is a calculation of the current tax on the average home within the school district, using the number which Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae has provided:
(Tax Rate = $1.28 per $100 valuation) x (Average Home Tax Value in CISD = $268,518) = $3,437.03 school taxes payable.
According to CISD, taking the school district’s financial projections directly from its bond advocacy website, here’s how the average home in CISD will see its taxes during the next ten (10) years:
CISD will spend at least $807 million, $245 million of which will go to the lawyers, engineers, and architects who are financing the pro-bond political campaign, while CISD will achieve no improvements in educational outcomes
CISD has made clear that there will be no improvements in educational outcomes from the $807 million bond. They disclosed that in writing.
Specifically, CISD’s projected improvement in:
- 4th grade reading comprehension for CISD students…0%.
- 8th grade mathematics ability for CISD students…0%.
- CISD graduation rates…0%.
- Postsecondary education participate rates for CISD graduates…0%.
CISD has also explained that the cost estimates for each and every line item in CISD’s 50-page listing of bond projects include a multiplier of 43.75% for lawyer fees, engineer fees, and architecture fees. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the major financial contributors which CISD’s pro-bond political action committee has disclosed so far are:
- RJMJR Consultants of Texas, Friendswood, $500.00 – IT and Portfolio Management firm, which is a major CISD vendor and regularly receives contracts in excess of $50,000 per year from the school district.
- DBR Engineering, Houston, $1,750.00 – A mechanical, electrical, and plumbing firm, already earmarked to receive several million dollars of lucrative contracts under the bond package.
- Geoscience Engineering & Testing, Inc., Houston, $3,000.00 – not current vendor but major contributor seeking lucrative contracts from the school district.
- Hellas Construction, Austin, $2,500.00 – General contractor which is a major CISD vendor.
- IBI Group, Houston, $5,000.00 – Major multimillion dollar CISD Vendor.
- Jones Borne Inc., Humble, $500.00 – Structural Engineering company seeking contracts under CISD bond package.
- Upchurch Kimbrough, Houston, $1,000.00 – Architecture firm seeking contracts under CISD bond package.
Under CISD’s cost estimates, the lawyers, engineers, and architects will receive approximately $245,608,695.65 of the $807 million bond.=
CISD will bring another bond before the voters in approximately four (4) years, so that CISD’s current financial projects are actually a floor for increased taxes
On February 18, 2019, when he spoke to the Montgomery County Tea Party, Null explained that CISD intends to put another bond package to the voters for a referendum in the next four years. Therefore, the tax increases from this $807 million bond package are only a floor for the school tax increases CISD taxpayers should expect during the next ten (10) years.
Assuming CISD’s current financial projections for the current bond package are the same for CISD’s next bond package, the tax increase scenario is different. Using CISD’s own projections entirely, here’s what CISD school taxpayers should expect to pay in taxes during the next ten years, assuming CISD’s current financial projections are applicable to the next CISD bond package voters may expert.
That’s a 132.99% tax increase in ten (10) years! In other words, in ten years, if CISD’s gets its way, your taxes in ten (10) years will be 2.3299 times what they are now.