The Northside ISD Bond Campaign Committee has begun a challenging job. The committee plans to convince homeowners in the city's largest school district to vote themselves a property tax increase on May 10.
The committee has begun an effort to sell the merits of the $648 million school bond package which the Board of Education voted last month to put on the ballot. The bond would fund construction of several new schools, including Northside's 12th high school in the Kallison Ranch area of far west Bexar County, but this is the sprawling district's first bond package ever which includes more money to renovate and upgrade existing buildings than to build new ones.
The bond package will contain money for everything from expansion of school buildings to upgrading school infrastructure, including HVAC systems which are, in some cases, forty years old.
But Dave Force, a retired Sea World executive who is one of the chairs of the Bond Campaign Committee, admits the key will be convincing homeowners, who are already fighting higher prices at the grocery store and the gas station, to agree to pay more property taxes.
He says the message is that poorly maintained and run down school buildings don't benefit anybody, but efficient and well-functioning school buildings benefit everybody.
"When you have a strong education component in your community, more people move into your community, and that makes it more attractive," Force said.
He says more and more, high paying businesses are attracted by a well educated work force.
He says another key goal of the committee is to convince taxpayers that the Northside ISD is well managed, and the money they pay in higher property taxes will not go to fund Deputy Assistant Superintendents.
"The bond is money that is being generated strictly for, in my term, bricks and sticks, only construction activities," he said. "This not the operating fund of the district."
He says this is also a longer term bond package than Northside has previously floated, so the higher taxes will phase in more gradually.
"In our district, the average price of a home is $165,000," Force said. "The first year there will be no increase in taxes. The second year there will be $1.81 per month. The third year would be about $4.58, then we go to $4.00, and then $3.51, so total at the end of five years, would be about $14.31 a month, or about $320 a year."
Most people who have a mortgage have their property tax added onto their monthly mortgage payments, so at the height of the bond issue, the average homeowner would expect that monthly payment to jump $14.31. That will go up as the value of the home goes up. If the home is valued at $330,000, or twice the average, the monthly taxes would also double, to an increase of $28.62 monthly or $640 per year.