Members of the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD board of trustees voted 6-1 to approve the recommendation of the district’s bond advisory committee for a $150 million bond package at their regular meeting Jan. 22.

The details

According to district documents, the bond is separated into three parts:
  • Proposition A: $134.2 million for safety, bus and school updates
  • Proposition B: $10.2 million for instructional technology
  • Proposition C: $5.5 million for swim center improvements
Senate Bill 30, which was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2019, requires school districts to submit separate bond propositions to voters for certain school purposes.

According to district documents, there will be no increase to the interest and sinking, or I&S, tax rate. The current debt portion of the GCISD tax rate is $0.1957 per $100 of property value. According to district officials, that rate is expected to remain at $0.1957 following the bond election.

A closer look

As the lone dissenter in the vote, Becky St. John, trustee for Place 2, had two concerns about the bond package. First, she said that as the bond proposal was worded, it did not provide a tax rate limit.

“There’s no way that I’m voting for a tax rate that has no limit,” St. John said.

Her second concern was about how the bond will be financed should property tax appraisals not increase at the annual 6% rate that district officials are projecting.

“It’s very clear that appraisals are out of control,” St. John said. “The Legislature has made some very positive steps towards correcting these out-of-control appraisals."

St. John then noted that the district hasn’t had a period where appraisals increased by 6% for three years in a row.

In addressing St. John’s concern, Alison Long with BOK Financial Securities, a firm that provides bond election consultation, said that over the last five years, three of those years saw property tax appraisals grow at more than 6%.

St. John replied that the average for the past five years was 4.91%.

“What happens if we don’t hit the 6% each year?” St. John asked.

Long said that if the district doesn’t hit the 6% tax rate, that taxes could potentially go up.

“That’s something that we will have to discuss on an annual basis when we come to set our tax rate,” Long said.

St. John further questioned other district officials about the fairness of which taxpayers would be paying should the bond cause an increase in the tax rate. Her concern was how the cities of Grapevine and Colleyville had set up tax increment financing districts in order to help pay for school district projects.

“If the Grapevine TIF is going to participate in this, why is the Colleyville TIF not going to participate?” St. John asked.

In responding to her concerns, former Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton, who was in the audience, said that while the Grapevine TIF is structured to pay for certain school district projects, the Colleyville TIF, which was created while he was in office, is set up to flow unrestricted into the GCISD general fund.

“I think it would be very beneficial to show what that amount is each year in the budget so the citizens aren’t confused about who’s giving what money,” Newton said. “The Colleyville TIF is contributing about [the] equal amount of money as the Grapevine TIF is.”