General Bond Election Information
On February 17th, the Stephenville ISD School Board proposed a $75,000,000 bond package be presented to voters in the district. The following Bond propositions will appear on the May 7, 2022 ballot.
The propositions and more information are provided below.
Proposition A: $50,000,000
Construction of a Yellow Jacket and Honeybee Football and Soccer Stadium with seating capacity of approximately 8,000.
Proposition B: $25,000,000
Build a Multipurpose Activity Center to provide accessibility for all district programs to utilize including athletics, band, drill team, cheer, and more.
Build a New Tennis Complex of up to 8 Courts
Renovate Yellow Jacket Baseball Stadium Seating and Press Box Area
How will the bond election impact my taxes?
Stephenville ISD’s current total tax rate is $ 1.1922. This rate is made up of an M&O (maintenance and operations) rate of $ 0.9094, and an I&S (interest and sinking fund) rate, also referred to as the debt rate, portion being $ 0.2828.
The bond package totals $ 75,000,000 and is made up of two propositions. The proposals provide the district and community with a football and soccer stadium seating approximately 8,000 people, as well as providing a multipurpose indoor facility for a variety of district and community functions, a tennis court complex of up to 8 courts, and renovation of stadium seating for the Yellowjacket Baseball Field.
The maximum cost for the proposed projects is $75,000,000. Upon the solicitation of bidding and contractor selection, SISD would be able to authorize the amount of bonds needed for these projects.
The passing of both of these propositions would increase the I&S tax rate by approximately .0885¢. However, with both state and local property value growth trends, there will be further compression on the overall tax rate through the M&O portion by approximately .0299¢. With approval of both projects, the net impact to the current tax rate would be an increase of .0586¢. This would make SISD new total tax rate approximately $1.2508.
Our current average taxable value of a residential home is $ 138,586. This increase to the tax rate would equal $ 81.21 per year or $ 6.77 per month. Taxes would not increase for voters over the age of 65 with a homestead exemption.
The impact of each home is based on the property value if the bond is passed during the May 7 election.
Are taxpayers over the age of 65 exempt from the possible tax increase?
Yes. Residents who have an over-65 homestead exemption, and qualifying disabled veterans, have the security of knowing that their taxes were frozen at the time of their 65th birthday. Anyone who needs more information about the exemption should call the Erath County Appraisal District at 254-965-5434 or go to the appraisal district’s website at erath-cad.com.
Why is SISD considering a football / soccer stadium?
Stephenville ISD does not have a "HOME" stadium. The contract between Stephenville ISD and Tarleton State University for use of Tarleton Memorial Stadium is binding through July 31, 2025. This stadium is where the YellowJacket football team has been hosted as 'HOME' for as long as anyone can remember.
With the above expiration date, the football team will be secured a place to play home scheduled events through the Fall 2024 season. After this time, if we do not have a secured facility, we will be playing all road games or be renting other facilities on 'off' nights based on availability.
SISD would consider all available construction options with the approval of this proposition.
Is TSU choosing to not renew the contract with the SISD?
There have been meetings in which Tarleton representatives have met with Dr. Cederstrom and our concerns were expressed about our future partnership. Unfortunately, we were not offered an extension or a renewal.
It would certainly be helpful to have official statements made by both parties regarding this situation. However, with different administration and rules/regulations, each governing board can choose to handle stances as they wish.
Does the district receive ticket sales and/or concession revenue from events at TSU Memorial Stadium?
Pre-Season and Gate Ticket Sales for football games bring in approximately $100,000. During the Fall 2020 regular football season, SISD paid Tarleton $65,500 for the use of their facility. (Prior to Tarleton going Division 1, our contracted rate ranged between $85,000 and $94,000 for several multiple years.) This fee does not include the cost of officials, game workers, or security.
Concession revenue has never gone directly to SISD. For the last several years, Sodexo runs the concessions on behalf of Tarleton and retains all proceeds. In prior years, different organizations or groups associated with SISD worked the concessions and their particular group or event benefited from the profits. (Example Booster Club, SISD Band, Project Graduation, etc.)
Where would the football / soccer stadium more than likely be located?
SISD already owns the land across the street from the Junior High, at the intersection of Frey Street and Wolfe Nursery Road.
What will these facilities look like?
There is no doubt that this is a challenging time for all factors impacting the cost, timeline, and facets of construction projects.
SISD is in contact with several professional architect and engineering firms, as well as contract construction companies to get an idea on pricing, rendering suggestions, and more. There will be formal bidding processes that take place to ensure pricing is appropriate and reasonable, committees seeking community input on curb appeal of items, and much more to come. In this day and age, you need the money to get the ball rolling in all areas.
What is the typical timeline for a football / soccer stadium construction project?
A generally accepted timeline would include at least 10 months of design, and 18+ months for construction. This is an ideal, best case scenario, and of course will be subject to the availability of resources, employees, etc.
What about the portion of the 'locker room' that SISD paid towards the Tarleton Stadium renovation?
In September of 2017, SISD made a pre-payment to Tarleton State University for $327,500 pertaining to use of the locker room for the stadium lease for 2018-2019 through 2023-2024 school years. However, as Tarleton officially moved to a Division 1 Status, these funds were refunded to SISD in its entirety on February 14, 2020.
What about the voice of the families in the surrounding neighborhood areas of the potential site project? Will SISD listen to them?
Any decisions made pertaining to traffic, road access, flood zones, etc will be addressed in the initial design and engineering phase of the project. These efforts will be in direct collaboration with the City. The anticipated timeline for this portion of the project is at least 10 months, and there are a great deal of legal and governmental compliance standards prior to authorization of proceeding in the project.
What exactly is a Multipurpose Facility?
This building would benefit all outdoor Fall and Spring sports and activities.
Conditions such as rain, hail, lightening, freezing temperatures, ice, and high winds currently impact many extracurricular activities. The facility would be used by at least the following programs: Football, Soccer, Band, Golf, Tennis, Softball, Baseball, Cheerleaders, and Stings.
Where does the current SISD tennis team practice?
Currently, SISD tennis players (individual and team) commute to the City Park and access the 4 available courts.
What needs to be done at the Baseball Field?
SHS Baseball field recently had a turf field installed and is currently being utilized during the Spring 2022 season. This proposition would allow the press box to be upgraded, as well as increasing the seating capacity.
How has the Board/District handled debt management in prior years?
Bond 2018 Status and Update
In May 2018, Stephenville ISD voters approved the $60.8 million bond for renovations and upgrades at multiple campuses. The bond package addresses safety and security, accessibility, building code deficiencies and allows for upgrades to Stephenville High School to provide increased opportunities for students. Site projects included Gilbert Intermediate, Stephenville High School, Agriculture/CTE Building, Fine Arts Auditorium, and Softball Complex.
A monthly update has been given at the SISD Board meetings by Huckabee Associates. All community members are welcome to view those presentations.
This entire project is over 95% complete. Although economical factors have impacted pace and scheduling, all parties have stayed committed to financial resources.
SISD is looking forward to hosting open house and sharing project report cards very soon. Please know that all funds approved by this Bond 2018 are restricted to be used on these projects exclusively and/or to pay back the bonded debt incurred.
Below is a "High Level" look at Project Budget vs. Expenditures To Date.
Is there a $30 million dollar balance of reserve funds available?
In the 2019-2020 Audit, the SISD Governmental Fund Balance sheet showed a total of $30.2 million dollar balance. Fund balance sheet accounts are misleading as they are not equivalent to cash availability. They are truly looking at receivables and payables of all funds and properties.
The $25.59 million is actually the restricted cash balance available to complete the Bond 2018 project. As of August 31, 2020, this was that account balance. These funds are ONLY allowable to be used for this project.
The 2020-2021 dollar balance of these restricted funds was $7,639,764. By the end of 2021-2022, any funds remaining once the project is fully constructed, equipped, and released to SISD, those dollars would be used to pay back debt for this project.
Is there an account with $4 million designated to the upgrade of Lem Brock?
No, there are no additional dollars designated to upgrade Lem Brock field.
There are Committed Fund Balance dollars that the board has designated for specific purposes for future needs. SISD does have funds specifically identified to be used for projects involving Construction/Facility Maintenance. This particular funding source is being utilized this summer year for our approximately 2 million dollar roof replacement at Gilbert Intermediate campus. Though we certainly have a maintenance operating budget built into our budget, those dollars are for minor maintenance and repair. These dollars are for big item facility needs. This includes current and future academic, administration, and operating facilities within the district.
Adding to fund balance dollars can only occur through increased revenue or decreased expenses.
Are there any other accounts with reserve funds designated for new capital projects?
No, there are no additional dollars designated for new capital projects.
The Texas school finance system does not allocate additional operating funds to school districts with the expectation or intention that districts be able to regularly use funds for capital items like construction. Instead, State law provides school districts the ability to address ongoing capital needs through the issuance of bonds. Pursuant to State law, proceeds generated from the Interest & Sinking Fund (“I&S”) portion of a school district’s tax rate. Those dollars then may only be used to repay (or service) bonds that have been issued and may not be used for any other purpose.
With increased commercial properties and values, the school district is getting more tax collections than before. Why are residential taxpayers having to approve more?
SISD Commercial Property Tax Collections(Includes Large Commercial Accounts; excludes Business Personal Property)
|Tax Year||Tax Dollars||# Accounts|
There has been an overall increase of 18 additional commercial taxpayers, contributing to an increase of approximately $650,000 in collections.
Based upon House Bill 3 that was adopted in the year 2019 and revamped the State funding system for Texas school districts, as local property taxes increase, funding assistance from the State is proportionately reduced. In other words, as local property tax collections increase, Stephenville ISD is correspondingly losing funding assistance from the State, leaving the District’s net revenue unchanged. Generally speaking, the only time SISD is able to generate and retain additional revenue from the State is when its student population increases.
That said, on an annual basis Stephenville ISD levies a Maintenance and Operations (“M&O”) tax rate to fund the operating budget and pay for the day-to-day expenses of the school district. Given that approximately 80% of SISD’s operating budget goes toward employee salaries, the District simply does not generate enough excess revenue to pay for large-scale capital projects such as the construction of a new football/soccer stadium.
The Texas school finance system, under which the State sets the operating portion of SISD’s property tax rate, does not allocate additional operating funds to school districts with the expectation or intention that districts be able to regularly use funds for capital items like construction. Instead, State law provides school districts the ability to address ongoing capital needs through the issuance of bonds, if such bonds are approved by voters in the community. Pursuant to State law, proceeds generated from the Interest & Sinking Fund (“I&S”) portion of a school district’s tax rate may only be used to repay (or service) bonds that have been issued and may not be used for any other purpose.
Why don't I see SISD Employees and Board Members out promoting their projects? If they do not believe in them, why should I?
There are legal and ethical guidelines for Bond Elections.
It is important that the District lead an “information-only” effort about the bond election on May 7, 2022.
Board members, employees, and officers of a political subdivision may exercise their First Amendment right to advocate and support a bond election so long as it is on their unofficial or off-duty time; using their own funds, resources, computers, etc.; and no resources of the district are used.
Who is qualified to vote in the Stephenville ISD Bond Election?
All registered voters within the boundaries of Stephenville ISD are qualified to vote on the propositions. Register to vote by April 7, 2022.