(The Center Square) – The five largest Texas Independent School District bond propositions on the Nov. 7 ballot total nearly $17 billion in debt from principal only. When current debt obligations are included, the total climbs to over $24.7 billion. In some cases, the bonds’ interest is higher than the proposed bond amount.
Combined, the districts have 186,141 enrolled students, many of whom are economically disadvantaged.
The districts’ notices for election say that by passing the 30 to 40-year bonds, they are authorized “to levy and pledge, and cause to be assessed and collected, annual ad valorem taxes on all taxable property in the District sufficient, without limit as to rate or amount, to pay the principal of and interest on said bonds and the costs of any credit agreements executed or authorized in anticipation of, in relation to, or in connection with the bonds.”
All ballot language asks voters to vote on “levying a tax sufficient to pay the principal and the interest on the bonds and the costs of any credit agreement executed in connection with the bonds. This is a property tax increase.”
Of the at least 86 ISD bond propositions on the ballot, the top five with the largest total debt obligation range from Prosper ISD’s $7.6 billion to Midland ISD’s $3 billion. They include:
Aldine ISD, Harris County: $1,812,156,143 in bond propositions. Total debt obligation if bonds pass: over $5 billion.
Aldine ISD’s three bond propositions total $1,812,156,143 (principal only). Estimated interest is nearly as much: $1,802,921,226.
Estimated interest is nearly as much: $1,802,921,226.
Including outstanding debt obligations of $1,436,135,741, if all propositions pass, taxpayers would owe an estimated $5,051,213,110.
Aldine ISD claims, “taxpayers would not see a tax rate increase for the next three years” if the bonds pass. Residents age 65 and older would have “$0 tax impact over frozen dollar amount;” the estimated impact would be “$0 per month on the average home value of $100,000 with homestead exemption.”
Aldine ISD is TEA C-rated. Of its 61,528 students, 90% are economically disadvantaged; 42.2% are Emergent Bilingual/English Learners.
Conroe ISD, Montgomery County: $1,995,777,000 in bond propositions. Total debt obligation if bonds pass: over $5.7 billion.
Conroe ISD’s four bond propositions total $1,995,777,000 (principal only). Estimated interest is $1,497,494,513. Including outstanding debt obligations of $2,223,517,460, if all propositions pass, taxpayers would owe $5,716,788,973.
The district’s long-term debt analysis states taxpayers owe an estimated $2,298,319,846 in outstanding debt; would owe $3,491,372,363 in new bonds and total estimated outstanding debt is $5,789,692,208.
Conroe ISD claims the bonds would have a “2 cent impact, or $4.17/month on home value of $350,000, including the $100,000 homestead exemption.”
The district is TEA B-rated. Of its 67,490 students, 40.5% are economically disadvantaged; 17.6% are Emergent Bilingual/English Learners.
Lewisville ISD, Denton County: $1,229,620,000 in bond propositions. Total debt obligation if bonds pass: over $3.2 billion.
Lewisville ISD’s six bond propositions total $1,229,620,000 (principal only). Estimated interest is $729,915,341.
Including outstanding debt obligations of $1,270,566,409, if all 40-year bonds pass, taxpayers would owe $3,230,101,750.
Lewisville ISD claims it’s reduced its overall tax rate by 27 cents over the last seven years. “Even if voters approve all propositions, the total tax rate for Lewisville ISD homeowners will still be 10.6 cents lower than last year’s tax rate. … Property taxes for citizens ages 65 and older cannot be affected by school district bond elections as long as a homestead and over 65 exemption are on file with the local appraisal district.”
The district is TEA B-rated. Of its 49,113 students, 33.6% are economically disadvantaged; 19.6% are Emergent Bilingual/English Learners.
Midland ISD, Midland County: $1,415,400,000 bond proposition. Total debt obligation if bond passes: over $3 billion.
Midland ISD’s bond proposition is $1,415,400,000 (principal only). Estimated interest greater than the bond: $1,506,237,456.
Including existing debt obligations of $172,347,110, if the up to 40-year bond passes, taxpayers would owe $3,093,984,566.
The district claims the bond would increase property taxes by $174 based on an estimated maximum annual increase in the amount of taxes imposed on a resident homestead with an appraised value of $200,000, after the $100,000 homestead exemption. It also states, “After the bond, there will be no increase in the overall tax rate.”
Midland ISD is TEA B-rated. Of its 26,387 students, 50.5% are economically disadvantaged; 15.3% are Emergent Bilingual/English Learners.
Prosper ISD, Collin/Denton counties: $2,807,000,000 in bond propositions. Total debt obligation if bonds pass: over $7.6 billion.
Prosper ISD’s four, 40-year bond propositions total $2,807,000,000 (principal only). Estimated interest is nearly as much: $2,2150,347,882.
Including existing debt obligations of $2,670,231,218.77, if the bonds pass, taxpayers will owe $7,627,579,100.77.
In a promotional video, the district claims the bonds will have a “0% tax rate increase;” the tax rate will be 18 cents less than 2022 and 41 cents less than 2018.
Prosper ISD is TEA B-rated. Of its 49,113 students, 33.6% are economically disadvantaged; 19.6% are Emergent Bilingual/English Learners.
Amy Hedtke, a leader with Texans for Freedom, who launched an advocacy campaign called, “It’s OK to vote NO” against the bonds, said any decrease in property taxes is because of legislative reform. The bonds “deceptively dip into that much-needed relief, making it less effective. A vote against it will result in a bigger tax decrease for families. Future tax bills over the 40-year bond authorization will be higher.”
The districts’ claims that taxpayers will see a decrease in their tax bill or have “no new tax rate” is “deceptive,” she told The Center Square. She also clarifies that “‘All taxable property includes everything from grocery stores to a 65-year-old renter’s home. Commercial properties and rental properties do not have the same valuation caps that homesteads do. Economically disadvantaged residents are typically renters and will be hardest hit by generational tax and debt increases over 40 years.”
The below chart, compiled by Texans for Freedom, is based on each district’s order for a bond election and voter information documents for each proposition.