What is a Bond?
Just as homeowners borrow money in the form of a mortgage to finance the purchase of a home, a school district borrows money in the form of bonds to finance construction, renovation and other capital projects. Both are repaid over time, but in order for a school district to sell bonds, it must go to the voters for approval.
How can bond funds be used?
Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing buildings, land acquisition, technology, buses, and equipment, among other items. By law, bond funds may not be used to fund daily operating expenses, such as salaries or utilities, which are paid for out of the district’s Maintenance & Operation (M&O) budget.
Why do you need a bond election?
School districts are required by law to ask voters for permission to sell bonds to investors in order to pay for capital expenditures for projects like building a new school or making renovations to existing facilities. Districts take out a loan and then pay that loan back over an extended period of time, much like a family takes out a mortgage loan for their house.
Why are there multiple propositions on this ballot?
The district is complying with a new state law that requires certain projects, like the construction, renovation or expansion of performing arts facilities, natatoriums, recreational facilities (like tennis) and technology devices to be separated into different propositions.
Questions about Taxes
How will the 2021 bond election affect my taxes?
If approved by voters, the estimated tax rate impact on property owners could range from zero cents to an estimated maximum of 2.6 cents per $100 valuation, depending on the timing of the sale of bonds. The tax rate could also be less than projected if the district’s tax base grows more than anticipated and/or a lower interest rate is secured.
Why is there no other way to fund these projects?
Planning for the district’s current and future needs is one of the fundamental duties of school boards and district administrators. As such, there is a constant evaluation of facilities and other needs in light of the changing district population, the age of district facilities, changes in technology, and even changes in instruction. When the district determines that it has needs beyond the capacity of the maintenance and operations budget, the Board may issue a bond.
The maintenance and operations budget covers the day-to-day expenses of the district, where 86.5% is directed towards staff salaries and benefits. The Texas Education Agency, through the Financial Integrity Ratings System of Texas (Schools FIRST), sets the guideline for school districts to have three months of operating expenditures in fund balance. Maintaining the required fund balance, as well as the operational needs of the district (with limited state funding) may restrict districts from building adequate savings to fund facilities and infrastructure needs.
What if I’m 65-years old or older and receive the “senior citizen exemption” but my home values go up? Will my school taxes go up?
For residents 65-years and older, their school district tax bill will not increase, even if your property values increase (excluding property improvements) as long as an approved Homestead and Over-65 Exemption application is on file with the Williamson Central Appraisal District, and the property has been owned as of Jan. 1 of the tax year.