Bait and Switch Bond Money?
May 8, 2014 by AFP
Taxpayers are being asked to approve $6.7 Billion in additional bond debt on May 10, 2014. Projects are outlined and advertised. But will those projects be what the funds are actually used for?
On May 17, 2012, I attended the Round Rock ISD school board meeting. The Board voted to spend $36.7 Million in “leftover” bond money for a project which the voters had not been asked to consider. (Problem #1) I spoke at the meeting and suggested that they use the money to pay down the debt, suggesting that taxpayers had approved the amount the Board had requested for specific projects. If millions were approved but not needed, does it then make sense that those funds be used at the Board’s discretion?
The Board called in an attorney to assure them that it was perfectly legal (Problem #2).
The Board referred to the $36.7 Million “leftover money” like it were leftover meatloaf. (Problem #3)
On Saturday, Round Rock ISD is asking taxpayers to consider $260 Million in bond initiatives, but will that money go toward the projects they outline in the bond plans? It is safe to say “we don’t know.” (Problem #4)
Interestingly, Initiative #3 proposed by RRISD is for two additional performing arts centers – and they total just about what had been “leftover” in 2012.
It is appropriate for taxpayers to wonder if the funds on the ballot May 10 – if approved – will be used for the projects the District put on the ballot. When officials betray the public trust, can the public trust that they would do it again? (Problem #5)
It is a problem when local officials promote a bond package and — if passed by the voters — are not required to spend the funds on the projects the voters approved.