The following article was written by local resident Chance Lancaster in opposition to the Amarillo Independent School District bond election taking place this November. The Amarillo Pioneer plans to bring you opinions from both supporters and opponents of the bond election to help you make an informed decision on November 7th.
Hello Amarillo Pioneers,
I’m Chance Lancaster, an Amarillo Citizen that is just a down to earth fella. I enjoy the outdoors, music, and sports. I am a property owner here in Amarillo and much like you I don’t like my taxes going up. If they do, I want to know why. Today I want to talk about the upcoming proposed AISD school bond.
In 2013 we as citizens of Amarillo passed a 99.45 million dollar bond for major program of facility and security improvements, renovations, additions and new construction to meet the needs of a student population that was growing.(Over the years, the district has been able to reduce the portion of the tax rate used for servicing debt by paying off bonds and refinancing debt from past bond issues.) That brings me to a few questions to date as of now. Since AISD as able to reduce the rates of other bonds that means extra revenue somewhere. Where is it at? And whats it going to? The 2013 $99.45 million bond rose taxes from 1.17 to 1.19 per $100. That effected a property owner about 1.53 a month or $18.32 a year on AVERAGE. If your house is/was over $200,000 you paid $47 more a year. Doesn’t sound like much but when your asking for $100 million to fix the same issues you asked for just 4 years ago it adds up.
So in 2013 AISD received:
· The need of classroom additions at 7 schools, 2 new sixth grade campuses for Bowie and Travis middle schools, and a new elementary school in the Caprock cluster; ( that hasn’t been built yet) where is that money at?
· Funded renovation projects such as HVAC replacement, a new cafeteria and kitchen at Eastridge Elementary, and synthetic turf for middle school playing fields;
· Provided video security upgrades and secure main entrance configurations at 13 elementary schools that didn't already have visitor-controlled entrances.
That brings us to the 100 million dollar 2017 bond. This bond hits us property owners a lot harder. As we all know in 2017 our properties went up in appraisal. Which now means AISD along with other tax entities are making more money off your raised values. Brings the question to mind ……….. Where is that revenue once again? The proposed bond is Set to increase your tax rate 5 cents per $100in value. Brings it to $1.23 per hundred. The average homeowner of a $120,000 home or property would see a $4+ a month raise or $48.02 a year increase. (even AISD is referencing that on the bond info page) Remember that’s the same numbers just 4 years ago the people with $250,000 homes paid at a lower rate. We did have some inflation which is understandable. However not much difference in the amounts of the bonds for a 3 cent difference in taxes and goes to show the addition of how appraisal effects rates.
The proposed needs of this 2017 bond are a lot of the same as the 2013 bond. Almost a mirror image. The 2017 bond package includes enhanced safety and security measures with the addition of school doors with bullet resistant glass and improvements to student drop-off/pick-up areas. The bond also calls for new classroom additions at four schools and facility updates for bathrooms, locker rooms and high school auditoriums. The bond also includes restoration and replacement of school plumbing and sewer lines, drainage areas, and other basic infrastructure improvements. Sounds like an echo to me. Many campuses are receiving the same upgrades as before.
With this information just having a few key points as to why do we need to put the citizens of Amarillo another 100 million dollars down for another 20+ years: I ask my fellow Amarillo citizens why do we need to vote for this increase for much of the same issues being proposed as we just paid for. You don’t go to Lowe’s and buy the same materials to update and secure your home twice within 4 years. So why is AISD? I’m all for giving our kids a better way to get an education but not at the expense of doing the same things twice. At what point does it stop? What will be next? AISD is over 50% of our taxes that we pay. That’s insane. They receive more than the city of Amarillo and Randall or Potter County combined. Like I said before I know $48+ a year on average isn’t much but it’s the principle. It’s always more and more the next bond after bond. The Excuse of “It’s only $4 a month” adds up time after time as well. I also notice the urgency to update a lot of schools that are newer than some of the older schools in Amarillo that have not received updating. When a bond is paid off we never see that in our tax rates. When the bonds are paid off where is that revenue of money going as well since we didn’t have a tax rate decrease? We can’t keep going to a bank for unlimited loans time and time again for the same issues twice that we are currently paying on.
My conclusion is this, why do we need to do the same things twice? The increases have to stop with us citizens. I have many questions about this bond. I know I haven’t hit all key point just a few in fact. I urge you to vote no for the proposed 2017 AISD bond and hold the district accountable for reasonable spending.