1. What is a bond?
A bond is similar to a home mortgage. It is a contract to repay borrowed money with interest over time. Bonds are sold by a school district to raise funds to pay for the costs of construction, renovations and equipment. Most school districts in Texas utilize bonds to finance renovations and new facilities.
2. What is a bond election?
School districts are required by state law to ask voters for permission to sell bonds in order to raise the capital dollars required for projects such as renovation to existing buildings or building a new school. Essentially, the voters are giving permission for the district to take out a loan and pay that loan back over an extended period of time, much like a family takes out a mortgage loan for their home. A school board calls a bond election so voters can decide whether or not they want to pay for proposed projects.
3. How can bond funds be used?
Bond funds can be used to pay for expenses directly related to construction of new buildings, additions and renovations to existing facilities, land acquisition, technology, equipment, and buses. State law does not allow bond funds to be spent on general operating costs such as salaries and benefits, utility bills, supplies, fuel, instructional materials, or other costs associated with daily operations of the district.
4. Exactly how much is the District asking for?
The Board of Trustees called a bond election in the amount of $160.6 million to be brought before voters on November 3, 2015.
5. How was the bond package developed?
The bond package was developed by the district’s Citizens Advisory Committee, consisting of 40 stakeholders, which included local citizens, business leaders, and parents. District staff served in an advisory role. The Committee met over a six-month period and reviewed the district’s current facilities, educational programs, facility assessment findings, demographics report, financial information, project cost estimates and community survey results. After their analysis, the Committee prioritized the needs of the district and developed recommended projects for the Board of Trustees to consider. The recommendations were presented to the Board on August 3, 2015 and the Board voted to call the bond election on August 17, 2015.
6. Was input gathered from the community regarding the bond package?
The CAC developed a survey that was administered to registered voters. There were 336 people who responded to the community survey, enough responses to make the results statistically valid. There were five objectives that were accomplished with the survey. They were to:
1. Assess community awareness of Georgetown ISD facility needs related to district programs;
2. Identify community opinion specific to individual projects being discussed by the Citizens Advisory Committee on District Facilities (CAC);
3. Increase participation in the discussion about district facilities;
4. Heighten awareness that the district was considering a bond issue for Nov. 3, 2015; and
5. Provide input to the CAC and the Georgetown ISD Board of Trustees in preparation for decisions to be made relevant to school district facilities.
7. What projects are included in the CAC recommendations?
The CAC recommended these projects and the following information represents community survey respondent approval as a percentage:
|Safety & Security
|Facilities: Adding a 4th Middle School
|Facilities: Tippit Middle School Upgrades
|Facilities: New Purl Elementary
|Facilities: Georgetown High School Renovations
|Admin: Repurpose Williams Elementary
|Land: 2 Elementary Sites/Bus Terminal
|Improvement Projects: HVAC/Lighting
|Improvement Projects: Roofs/Parking Lots
|Infrastructure: 21 Buses
|GISD Athletic Complex: Replace Artificial Turf
8. How is the District’s tax rate configured?
A school district’s tax rate is comprised of two components: Maintenance & Operations (M&O) and the Debt Service tax rate, also known as the Interest & Sinking rate (I&S). The M&O rate is used to operate the school district, including salaries, utilities, furniture, supplies, fuel, etc. The I&S rate is used to pay off school construction bonds. Bond sales only affect the I&S or debt service tax rate.
9. How will the proposed bond election affect my taxes?
If the bond election is approved by voters, the estimated maximum tax impact of this bond is anticipated to be 5 cents for a total tax rate of up to $1.448. For the average taxable home value of $252,058, this represents an increase of approximately $10.50 per month.
The chart below shows how Georgetown ISD would compare to other surrounding districts if the bond passes:
||Debt Service Tax Rate
10. How do I calculate my personal tax impact for the bond package?
To calculate your personal tax impact from the bond package, divide the taxable value of your property (less homestead exemptions) by 100. Then, multiply that number by .05 for the annual impact of the total bond proposal. Or click here to use the tax calculator on our Tax Information page.
11. How do rising taxable values impact the debt service tax rate?
As property values increase, the revenue generated to pay for bond debt increases, thus the Debt Service tax rate may be lowered. School districts cannot promise that future values will increase each year, so Georgetown ISD cannot promise a future reduction in the tax rate. However, as taxable values increase, GISD typically would lower the debt service tax rate necessary to make the annual debt payment.
12. What are the district’s debt management practices?
One of the often asked questions is why should one vote for bonds that pay out over 20-30 years that is to be used for technology devices or buses that don’t last that long. The answer is that you shouldn’t. At the heart of this question, however, is the assumption that all debt obligations are structured to be paid out over a 20-30 year period of time. In reality, debt life should mirror the life of the asset being purchased. Bond funds should be repaid over a time period that is equal to or less than the life of the equipment, land, or building.
Georgetown ISD adheres to a debt management practice that structures its debt obligations to match the useful life of the assets that are purchased with bond funds. The debt obligations for buildings are typically repaid in 20-25 years while the building lasts 40-50 years. Technology devices have a much shorter useful life. The debt amount for these devices is structured not to exceed five years. Buses last 15 years, but the debt obligation for bus purchases is structured to be repaid in ten years or less. Stadium turf life is 8-10 years and the debt obligation repayment corresponds to that time frame.
13. What if I am over 65 years old? Will my taxes go up if the bond is successful?
No. If you have applied for and received the Over 65 Freeze on your homestead, by law, your school taxes cannot be raised above their frozen level.
14. Who is eligible to vote in this election?
Any registered voter that resides within the school district boundaries is allowed to vote in this election.
15. Can I still register to vote in the election?
The deadline for voter registration is OCTOBER 5. You must be registered by this deadline to be eligible to vote in this election. You can pick up a registration card from your local post office or the Georgetown ISD Administration Building at 603 Lakeway Drive. You can also register online at http://sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqvr.shtml.
16. When will the Georgetown ISD bond election be held?
The general election date is November 3, 2015. Early voting will begin October 19 and will end on October 30. The school district recognizes the importance of the bond election to all stakeholders and encourages all registered voters who reside in the school district to vote.
17. After I have registered, when will I receive my Voter Registration Certificate?
You should receive a Voter Registration Card within 30 days. On Election Day, please bring one of the acceptable forms of identification
to the polling site with you.
18. If I have questions concerning the bond issue, who should I contact?
Contact the Georgetown ISD Community Engagement& Communications Department at 512.943.1890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org