Hays School District voters torpedoed a $78.5 million school bond issue on Tuesday, but it looks like another bond issue looms on the horizon.
The failed 30-year bond issue would have increased taxes by about $10.95 per month for the owner of a $100,000 home and by $16.43 per month for the owner of a $150,000 home. Commercial property owners would pay even more. The owner of a business property valued at $100,000 would pay an extra $23.81 per month in taxes, and the owner of a business property valued at $150,000 would pay an additional $35.71 in taxes each month.
In exchange for paying higher property tax rates, the district would build two new elementary schools and renovate two others and renovate the middle school and high school. It’s been more than 25 years since the Hays School District has passed a bond issue, and in that time, enrollment has slowly declined.
Voters rejected the proposal by a large margin. Only 39 percent of USD 489 voters supported the bond issue, but USD 489 Superintendent John Thissen told the Hays Post that the needs of the district aren’t going away. He said the bond issue will be a reference point for the district to float another bond proposal soon.
“A bond issue for schools is not like a competition between two teams to determine who is the visitor. It is actually more like the components of the same team trying to make decisions for the betterment of the whole team or community,” the Hays school district superintendent said in a written statement following the election. “We have a range of feelings as great as people wanting for their children what other children have in other communities to people who see money put into schools as having nothing to do with them.”
The wide margin of defeat won’t stop officials from attempting another bond issue. Thissen told the Hays Post that officials will now canvas the community to determine why people voted against the bond proposal.
“When you end up having that kind of number that is not for it, it is important to determine specifics of what were the main details about it that were just not agreeable. It may not be a matter of just the total dollars. It may have been other factors involved.”
Finding individuals willing to explain their votes may be a challenge. The Hays Post’s coverage didn’t include quotes from those who voted against the bond. A KWCH television reporter revealed that she couldn’t find any voters willing to appear on camera to discuss their reasoning, though she said voters told her the proposal was too expensive, it included too many projects at once, and that building two new schools seemed excessive.
Thissen told the television station that school officials will keep trying. Tuesday’s election marked the second USD 489 bond proposal to be rejected by Ellis County voters in the last two years.
“We would go back to that and look at it and try to come up with another plan as soon as possible,” he said.