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Should I vote YES for Bryan ISD's 2020 Bond?

2,397 Views | 31 Replies | Last: 1 day ago by halibut sinclair
JoelBryan
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Early voting starts Tuesday, October 13 and we would love your support!

As a member of the Bryan ISD Bond PAC and a proud parent of three BISD students, I can tell you that this bond will benefit EVERY single student in Bryan ISD. The BISD 2020 Bond provides for an additional intermediate school, new transportation/maintenance center, full-district safety improvements, major maintenance work, and so much more. And all without a tax rate increase. How? Bryan ISD has done an exceptional job keeping their bond rating high, which means we can borrow with very low interest. In fact, BISD has lowered their tax rate again for 2020 and it's now at $1.2325 (down $.0375 from 2019).

Please vote YES! for the 2020 Bryan ISD Bond in the upcoming election. We're happy to answer any questions you may have that will help you make this decision.

For more information on BISD's 2020 Bond please visit www.backbryanisd.com or www.bryanisd.org/bond.
sornman
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Looking at the sample ballot, page 2, Prop A, last sentence:
Quote:

"This is a property tax increase."
I am not stating for or against here, but just wondering why you are saying it isn't a tax increase when the ballot states it is a tax increase.
JoelBryan
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Thank you for asking a great question!

Texas legislature requires that ALL bond elections state that it is a tax increase, even though in this case, your tax rate will not increase with an approval of the bond. So, the disclosure requirement must be on the ballot, regardless of the tax rate increasing or not. This is done, in part, because generally taxes will increase over time as our local property values increase. The BISD 2020 Bond is genuinely a no tax rate increase bond.
duffelpud
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AG
Forbes disagrees.

No tax increase bonds increase your taxes.

How? School districts regularly issue bonds to finance capital improvements like building new buildings or renovating existing infrastructure. Taxpayers pay off those bonds over time, usually via an increase to their property taxes. Bonds are issued for a specific period, and when they are paid off, taxpayers tax bills go down.

Enter no tax increase bonds. When a school district finds itself on the tail end of a bond payoff period, it realizes that it can borrow more money without taxpayers paying more than they currently are. They simply tack more bonds on and add more years of payment. Everyone's taxes stay the same and the school district gets more money.

But do you see the problem? No tax increase bonds actually do increase your taxes. If the district didn't issue new bonds after paying off the existing ones, your tax bill would go down. But it doesn't. That is a tax increase.

I understand that this might seem like a trivial matter, but it is a problem, for three reasons.

First, it is not honest. Honesty is in short supply in contemporary politics, but our school leaders should be better than this. If they want more money for a new high school, a new science lab or a new football stadium, they have an obligation to be transparent with the people they are asking to pay for it. Playing a shell game or deflecting the true cost erodes the trust between the community and schools.

Second, it thwarts oversight, transparency and accountability. School district bond elections have the potential to be some of the clearest and most transparent elections we have in America. The district usually has a well-articulated plan for that they are hoping to do, and community members get to decide whether it is worth it. When I see a proposed bond issuance or tax levy increase, I look up the enrollment of the district. Is it growing? Do they need a new building? I look with my own eyes at the plans for new facilities and make a judgment as to whether they are appropriate or extravagant. I can even look at existing debt loads and tax levy rates and compare them to neighboring districts. Are we spending more than them, less than them or about the same? As a result, I can make an informed decision. But when districts are simply tacking on more years of spending, they often use general language about the allowable uses of these dollars. There are no clear plans. It is hiding the ball.

Finally, it undermines the fundamental truth that the things that we want cost money. If we want to build a new high school in our community, it is going to cost money. We need to pay for it out of our taxes. If it is worth it, we should do it, but we should do so knowing that we are going to be paying for it. By pretending like we're getting something for nothing, folks can start to think that we don't have to pay for the things that we want. That is wrong. We should never forget that we have to pay for what we want.

The Chinese philosopher Confucius argues in The Analects, "If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success." This idea is so important, he argues, that the first order of a new leader is to "rectify names." That is, to make sure that things are called what they are supposed to be called.

It is important for us to debate whether new spending is worth it. Muddying the water with terms like "no tax increase" makes that very hard to do. That's a shame, and without rectifying the name, the affairs of schooling cannot be carried on to success.
"What's this button do?"
aedubose
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While I respect the content from a site like Forbes, I don't know that it fosters an actual conversation about what we are working with here locally. I participated on the task force with BISD that specifically worked on building this bond. Over the course of our work, our task force (full of community leaders, parents, teachers, and administrators) worked hard to assess the needs of our district and students. This bond and it's planning is very transparent. Additionally, there is a bond oversight committee for after the bond is passed that helps keep the district on-task.

As far as the rate goes, BISD has done an exceptional job of working to reduce their rate over the last 4+ years. There is no increase and there was a recent decrease of almost 4 cents. We could easily be in a position of years past where a bond required a 7 or 8 cent increase. Due to good housekeeping and strong property values in our district, we don't have to do that.

Our district has real and proven needs. I respectfully request that folks do their research before jumping to conclusions about what the district is doing. They are working in a very upfront and transparent way.
CS78
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With property taxes out of control, I will not be approving any bonds no matter how things are worded. Reign in property taxes and then we'll talk.
aedubose
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That is your right as a voter. If you want real change in property taxes, you need to take that up with your legislators. They're the main ones that can control the way property taxes are handled. School districts, in particular, are reliant on property taxes. That isn't their fault. That sits at the feet of the state and it's lack of funding for our schools. Education should be a priority.
halibut sinclair
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Vote YES.
LSCSN
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Vote NO!
Lone Stranger
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In my opinion anyone who looks at their local tax bill and implies education spending is not already a priority above everything else in both local communities needs a reset on reality. Hyperbole much?
aggieman2717
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Joel, if we are being transparent here, can you tell me what the current tax rate is, and what it will be if this bond is rejected? Thank you
spicyitalian
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AG
CS78 said:

With property taxes out of control, I will not be approving any bonds no matter how things are worded. Reign in property taxes and then we'll talk.
I couldn't agree with this statement more. Get appraisals back to more appropriate levels and reign in the outrageous annual increases and maybe we'll talk about your pet projects.
halibut sinclair
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https://theeagle.com/opinion/editorial/vote-yes-on-175-million-bryan-school-bond-issue/article_3e0e9840-0d04-11eb-9584-1746d279954b.html
iisanaggie
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AG
I 100% agree that property taxes (more accurately, appraisals) are out of control. The problem is that the school districts are not to blame in how Texas has set up the mess we are in. What we need to do is a complete education reform where educators are involved and not political pundits. Vote out the career politicians at the local and state level who only want to get reelected, not do real work for our schools and the rest of their constituency!
Muzzleblast
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Everyone should understand the politicians trick of tax rates in Texas.

Tax rate x appraisal value = actual dollars paid.

Your tax rate can easily go down and you'll wind up paying more in tax dollars via the unelected and unaccountable Central Appraisal District.

Vote no on any and all bonds. You are committing people to pay this stuff off that are not even born yet.
JoelBryan
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As a parent of three students in Bryan ISD, my advocacy for the bond is stems from my support and belief in Bryan ISD's leadership, as well as a being parent who values the objectives that have been outlined in the bond. I grew up in Bryan, but lived elsewhere for about 15 years. I raised my family in The Woodlands for eleven years before returning to Bryan in 2018. Our boys are currently in their third year in Bryan schools.

I don't feel like this is a personal pet project, I believe the components of this bond to be critical to the school district.

Two of my boys attended Sam Rayburn Intermediate over the previous two years, and my youngest son is currently attending school on this campus. I can personally attest that the classrooms on this campus have been consistently full, which aligns with the need for an additional campus to accommodate our 5th and 6th graders.

My older sons currently attend SFA, and are attending class in an older portion of the campus that, to my knowledge, was not intended for classroom use when this campus was renovated several years ago. Due to the increased participation in one of the district's stem programs, it was necessary to begin using some of these older classrooms. Updating this portion of the SFA campus has also been outlined in the bond.

My boys have made many comments about the garbled announcements in the morning due to the use of dated PA systems in our schools. I believe the use of good PA systems in our schools would classify as a critical upgrade.

Many of our high school students are attending class in portable buildings at Rudder High School. This bond would give us the ability to expand this campus and bring these students inside the main building.

These are just a few examples of items outlined in the bond that I have had a personal experience with, which helps me understand the importance of including them in this bond. I also recognize that funding for these improvements comes from our community, and selfishly as a parent of students, I am here to encourage you to help by supporting this bond. We all have the opportunity to vote on the issue, and I was excited to cast a vote this morning in approval of the bond. I hope that many will do the same.
aedubose
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The current rate is $1.2325/$100 worth of value. We cannot guarantee what the rate will be for 2021 because that is almost solely dependent on the overall values of properties at that time. Taxing entities don't typically set those until August/September of that year after values are finalized.

As for the tax spending being out of control. These aren't pet projects. There are real, substantial, and provable needs the district has. The intermediate schools are overcrowded (I should know, my son goes to one). The new intermediate is absolutely necessary. The transportation/maintenance center was built in the 70s and our fleet has more than doubled since then. There are MAJOR maintenance items needed and those have to be paid for with the bond. Additionally, the integrated safety systems across the district will be completely done. This is about creating a SAFE environment for our students to thrive in.

I get it. No one likes taxes. But our system is broken. The state needs to step up with better was for schools to fund themselves. School districts, especially in Texas, cannot put money in to savings. Their budgets are tight and additional projects and needs require voter approval.

I hope everyone will do their research and not instantly rally against bond efforts simply because of their feelings about taxes.
aedubose
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Thank you for posting this!
aedubose
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Thank you for speaking to this. The system is completely broken and it isn't the fault of districts. Their hands are tied.
aggieman2717
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Ok, let me rephrase my original question then. Not asking to predict the final tax rate in 2021, but If a 175 million dollar bond is rejected, what amount will the tax rate decrease because of this rejection? This amount should be easier to estimate. My guess 5-6 cents per 100 dollar valuation. Mark my words, if passed, this bond WILL RAISE YOUR TAXES. If not approved, your tax rate WILL DECREASE. Sad how BISD tries to pull this over the head of voters every bond election. Very Very Deceitful.
Muzzleblast
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Nothing changes when nothing changes.

This was supposed to be somewhat fixed in the last legislature but with Dennis Bonnen and Abbott running things nothing moved.

I have a State Rep that was in his rookie season, Ben Leman, and he was pretty useless.
goatchze
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AG
aedubose said:

The current rate is $1.2325/$100 worth of value. We cannot guarantee what the rate will be for 2021 because that is almost solely dependent on the overall values of properties at that time. Taxing entities don't typically set those until August/September of that year after values are finalized.

As for the tax spending being out of control. These aren't pet projects. There are real, substantial, and provable needs the district has. The intermediate schools are overcrowded (I should know, my son goes to one). The new intermediate is absolutely necessary. The transportation/maintenance center was built in the 70s and our fleet has more than doubled since then. There are MAJOR maintenance items needed and those have to be paid for with the bond. Additionally, the integrated safety systems across the district will be completely done. This is about creating a SAFE environment for our students to thrive in.

I get it. No one likes taxes. But our system is broken. The state needs to step up with better was for schools to fund themselves. School districts, especially in Texas, cannot put money in to savings. Their budgets are tight and additional projects and needs require voter approval.

I hope everyone will do their research and not instantly rally against bond efforts simply because of their feelings about taxes.
We know what the M&O rate will be. What's unknown is the I&S rate, and it is not "..almost solely dependent on...values of properties..." It is dependent on valuations and debt service combined.

As a previous poster pointed out, it is a little disingenuous to advertise the bond issuance as "not increasing the tax rate" and completely false if someone says "it will not increase taxes". New debt has an upward pressure on the I&S rate, depending on valuations, and it certainly requires higher taxes. Part of the debt issuance is required proof that such additional funds can be raised.

It's sort of like back in 2017 when BISD convinced the people to vote for a higher M&O rate by obfuscating it with a reduction in the I&S rate. It's a crafty use of the way the taxes work to get the desired results. "Vote yes to reduce your tax rate" sounded great to many people, but really it meant "Vote yes to increase your M&O tax rate. We will set the I&S rate up or down as needed, just as before". But few people were bothered to investigate the details for themselves, and a low turn out, off year, October election where an outsized proportion of voters were BISD employees certainly helped with resounding passage of the measure.

None of that has anything to do with the validity or need for this new debt issuance, of course. Obviously, good debt management (and increasing property values) is what allowed the BISD I&S rate to drop a few years ago when it did. And a case can be made that the projects to be funded by this new debt are truly required.

But new debt increases taxes. Full stop. The I&S rate is simply adjusted to ensure that these new taxes are assessed. If the I&S rate as is currently set can service this new debt, then it means it would be reduced without the new debt. Telling voters otherwise is misleading at best.

auxneer
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AG
The new middle school in the bond is planned to go next to Bonham Elementary. The area can't handle traffic congestion when it's just a normal day at Bonham.
Solid no for me.
doubledog
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Muzzleblast said:

Everyone should understand the politicians trick of tax rates in Texas.

Tax rate x appraisal value = actual dollars paid.

Your tax rate can easily go down and you'll wind up paying more in tax dollars via the unelected and unaccountable Central Appraisal District.

Vote no on any and all bonds. You are committing people to pay this stuff off that are not even born yet.
Agree

Dear city/county/state and national government.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me 1,000,000+ times shame on me.
Do not pee on me and then tell me I was on fire.

Angry Taxpayer

InMyOpinion
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aggieman2717 said:

Ok, let me rephrase my original question then. Not asking to predict the final tax rate in 2021, but If a 175 million dollar bond is rejected, what amount will the tax rate decrease because of this rejection? This amount should be easier to estimate. My guess 5-6 cents per 100 dollar valuation. Mark my words, if passed, this bond WILL RAISE YOUR TAXES. If not approved, your tax rate WILL DECREASE. Sad how BISD tries to pull this over the head of voters every bond election. Very Very Deceitful.
I assume there some mechanism that states when a bond is paid off that the Interest and Sinking (I&S) tax rate is automatically reduced ?
George Costanza
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"School districts, especially in Texas, cannot put money in to savings."

You sure about that?
txgardengirl
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Why would you ever vote to have resources to educate children?

/maybe because they're the ones that will enter the workforce and be taking care of the rest of us before we know it...

Research the bond - get involved with the boards that evaluate what goes in to them -

I get that you want to pay less taxes and survive with what is in place, but with a growing population, is that really a workable paradigm?

If I were eligible to vote for this school bond, I would.
Turf96
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If we had a voucher system this would not be an issue. Pay what's asked or go to another school. In stead we gouge out the TAC layers eyeballs to socially ingrain liberal ideas into kids heads to vote to take more from those that produce. Listen making people pay more taxes that don't even have kids in school is wrong. All of these school bonds do just that. I can't vote on this but I would vote a hard no on it until the laws are revamped to stop money grabs by local and state governments.
jeffk
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AG
Voted "yes" for it this morning.
cavscout96
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AG
txgardengirl said:

Why would you ever vote to have resources to educate children?

/maybe because they're the ones that will enter the workforce and be taking care of the rest of us before we know it...

Research the bond - get involved with the boards that evaluate what goes in to them -

I get that you want to pay less taxes and survive with what is in place, but with a growing population, is that really a workable paradigm?

If I were eligible to vote for this school bond, I would.
...it's for the children!!!
MisterShipWreck
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Some really intelligent people on this thread
halibut sinclair
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jeffk said:

Voted "yes" for it this morning.


As did I.
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