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Valley View ISD Bond

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Valley View ISD has decided that the voters and taxpayers didn't understand the question to the test, (bond election), and think we need a re-do.  I get the impression these educators are so used to grading students and determining right from wrong with almost absolute certainty in the classroom and on school grounds they don't think anyone other than them knows the best answer.  Perhaps they think we are still students.  It appears they don't believe educated adults might come to a different decision on how to spend OUR limited funds and we might not agree with the school taking more money from our hard working families, struggling to get by in a difficult economy. Maybe they don't agree with the principles of our democracy that once the voters have made a decision, they should respect it.
 
They have called another election for November 5, 2013.  They have lowered the bond slightly to $9.8 Million but the tax impact they estimate is close to our previous bond estimate, perhaps due to higher interest rates.  Apparently between the lawsuit they filed against the State of Texas and the last Tax Election that did pass, ( One out of four in the last three years), they have a little more surplus funds than they previously told us and have decided they can cover the rest of Phase 1 and some additional upgrades out of tax revenues and reserves.  From what little we've been able to get from Mr. Stokes, VVISD Superintendent, very little has changed from the previous election and projected costs.  He either doesn't have updated costs or has decided not to share them with us.
 
More will be added as time permits.
 
 
Valley View ISD Board voted to conduct a $12 Million Bond election on May 11, 2013.  The bond, if passed was expected to increase the tax rate 32 cents per Superintendent William Stokes and the brochure circulated by VVISD. 
 
The Valley View ISD Bond failed 293 Against to 282 For.  VVISD has not posted the election results as best we can tell but we have them so we will post them here.
 
James Clinton Grant    393
Rita Parker                  238
Karl Maughan              413
Corinne French            374

FOR                         282
AGAINST                293


 
 
We moved the history on how we got to this point down to the bottom since that is kind of old news at this point.
 
It is unfortunate that Superintendent William Stokes and the Valley View ISD Board decided to make the bond election an all in one proposition.  There are probably some things that need to be done in the bond for $2-3 Million.  Unfortunately there is a lot in the bond that we view as a wish list such as 16 or more new classrooms.  The Board could have broken the bond into smaller sections so the voters could decide what they were willing to pay for and  say no to some of the lower priorities.  Based on the HUGE Taxpayer expense of the all-in-one proposition, we urge a NO VOTE on this bond election.
 
Valley View ISD's Tax Rate is currently $1.12.  If you add the 32 cents that Valley View ISD says they will need to make the bond payments to that, you are at a $1.44 which would be the highest school tax rate in Cooke County and the highest tax rate of any entity in Cooke County.  That is almost a 30% increase. If you add another 21 cents for phase 2, that would be a total of $1.65 per $100 valuation or almost a 50% tax increase.  Whitesboro ISD currently has the highest tax rate at $1.40 although most of their district is in Grayson County.
 
For a $100,000 homestead in Valley View's taxing district, you can deduct a $15,000 exemption.  Only $85,000 is taxed.  A 32 cent tax increase on a value of $85,000  = .32 * 85,000/100 = $272 each year for 25 years.  Over 25 years, if values stay the same, the cost of the bond is $6,800 for that $100,000 homestead.  Even if they change/go up, unless a lot of new homes are built, you will probably pay the same amount or higher, you may just pay a slightly lower rate on a higher value to generate the same shared bond payment.  On an annual basis, your school taxes would increase from $952 to $1,224 a year.   If your homestead is worth $200,000, you only get the $15,000 deduction once so you would pay an additional $320 on the second $100,000 of value and an additional $8,000 over the 25 year life of the proposed bond for a total of $14,800 for a $200,000 home.
 
If you have rental property, oil & gas, agriculture or business property, you don't get the homestead exemption.  If the property is assessed at $100,000, your taxes would go up $320 a year or $8,000 over the life of the bond.  On an annual basis, your school taxes would increase from $1,120 to $1,440 a year.
 
It is our understanding that seniors with an over 65 exemption may not see a tax increase on their homestead if they are already paying at their cap but they would pay the added tax on any other properties they might own.  Several seniors are paying below their cap as their property valuation has dropped over the past five years so they are paying less school tax than the cap that was established when they turned 65.
 
We believe that this campus renovation is too expensive and too much of a burden to Valley View taxpayers.  Most taxpayers already saw a 2% reduction in their paychecks due to the social security tax rate going up 2% in January.  We know for many, raises are few and far between and many have seen their household incomes go down in the last five years.
 
We believe that Mr. Stokes, the principals and school board should go back and take a hard look at the priorities.  It appears they want at least 16 new classrooms.  Valley View ISD already added about a dozen classrooms for the middle school a few years ago and we are still paying the bond on that building to the tune of 8 cents in the tax rate.  As best we can tell enrollment has increased a total of 11 students from 2001.  If they've already added a dozen or so classrooms, why do they need at least 16 more classrooms when enrollment is growing one student a year, on average?
 
We understand the needs for safety and security for the students.  We would like to see some lower cost alternatives to improve this.  We don't believe a $21.5 million campus renovation is justified.  Divided by 700 students, (we understand Valley View ISD's current enrollment is below 700) , that is more than $30,000 per student in facility upgrades.  That is a lot of money per student.  Their parents might think they have a better way to spend that money rather than contribute it for taxes.
 
We also believe that any transfer students whose parents live outside Valley View should pay an equal share of any facility improvements if local taxpayers are going to be asked to increase the tax rate.
 

Click this link to see a one page summary of the VVISD proposed improvements and costs.

Click this link to see Mr. Stokes' entire 18 chart presentation to the VVISD Board on Jan 10, 2013

Click this link to see sample tax rates for various bond amount and terms. We received this file from Mr. Stokes

Click here to see the Valley View Board members who will make the decision on the bond election.

Below is a history of how we got here based on events we attended in January and February 2013.
 
About 50 citizens attended the special called Valley View ISD Board meeting on February 7, 2013.  About 15 people signed up to speak and everyone that signed up was given up to five minutes to speak.  Public comments ran about an hour.  It appears several of the speakers in favor of the bond pay no property taxes to Valley View ISD.  
 
The board decided unanimously to call the bond election for May 11, 2013.  
 
Below is more detail on how this came about and a summary of the previous meeting of the Bond and Facilities upgrade on January 10, 2013.
 
The posted agenda was to "Continue Discussion Regarding Facilities Upgrades and Development".
 
However; the first chart started with "Bond" presented by Mr. William Stokes, superintendent of Valley View ISD.  We requested an electronic copy of the presentation deck from Mr. Stokes which he promptly sent via e-mail so we will include a link to it below.
 
Near the end of the meeting, Mr. Stokes said he expected that the tax bond would result in an increase in the Valley View ISD Tax Rate of 32 or 33 cents for Phase 1.  He explained the rates could change a little since interest rates could change between the time the election is called and the bonds are sold.  He indicated this was for a term of 25 years for Phase 1 of campus renovation and expansion project.  Phase 1 according to Mr. Stokes summary chart will cost $11,699,584.04 or about $11.7 million.  The total project is expected to cost $21.5 million.  Mr. Stokes suggested that Valley View ISD would later sell more bonds for the second phase which appears to about $7.9 million.  If we extrapolate what it would cost to fund phase 2 at current rates and tax base, that would be about another 21 cents increase in the tax rate to $1.65, 25 cents higher than the current highest school tax rate in Cooke County. We don't know why the bond election is for $12 million vs. $11.7 million per the charts Mr. Stokes gave us.
 

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Pol. Ad paid for by www.cookecitizens.org, Steve Gaylord, Treasurer