Editor's note: As of presstime, final unofficial voting totals were not available. Check online at www.marshallnewsmessenger.com for the final totals for Harrison County and the Hallsville Bond election.
HALLSVILLE — Hallsville ISD early voters cast their ballots in favor of the district's proposed $55 million bond that would allocate money towards a new elementary school, updates to the junior high campus and a new auditorium at the high school, according to early voting numbers released from the Harrison County Elections Office on Tuesday.
Unofficial early voting numbers released on Tuesday showed 814 voters, or about 58 percent, voted in favor of the bond, while 597 voters, or about 42 percent voted against the bond.
Harrison county early voters also voted against the constitutional amendment proposition 1 that would allow a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at a time. The unofficial early vote count came in at 62 percent against and about 38 percent in favor of the motion.
Proposition 2 allowing up to $200 million for projects in distressed areas by the Texas Water Development Board was voted in favor of by about 58 percent of Harrison county voters, while about 42 percent voted against the measure.
Proposition 3 requiring political subdivisions to provide temporary property tax exemptions in areas that the governor declared as disaster areas was voted favorably by about 81 percent of early voters, with about 19 percent of voters not in favor of the move.
Proposition 4 which would prohibit the state from levying an income tax on individuals to the state constitution was voted favorably by about 86 percent of early voters and voted against by about 14 percent of early voters.
Proposition 5 which would dedicate revenue from the sales tax on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission was voted favorably by about 86 percent of early voters and was voted against by about 14 percent of early voters.
Proposition 6 which allows the legislature to increase the maximum amount of bonds for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas from $3 billion to $6 billion was voted favorably by about 63 percent of early voters while about 37 percent voted against the measure.
Proposition 7 which allows the General Land Office and State Board of Education to each transfer $600 million from the Permanent School Fund's lands and properties proceeds to the Available School Fund each year was voted favorably by about 70 percent of early voters, with about 30 percent voting against the move.
Hallsville ISD Superintendent Jeff Collum has been talking about the district’s $55 million bond election at every available opportunity lately, trying to get voters to realize the need for expansion at the growing district.
“Voters will see two propositions for Hallsville ISD on the ballot,” Collum said in a statement last week on the bond. “Proposition A is for the issuance of $55 million for the proposed projects: a new west elementary school, a new performing arts center, junior high safety upgrades and renovations, and district-wide improvements. Proposition B is for $3 million to refund and replace maintenance tax debt with interest and sinking tax debt.”
The district is currently in a unique financial position that voters and tax payers will not only not see a tax increase due to approving the bond election, but will instead see a tax decrease.
Thanks to an influx of state funding to school districts as part of the recently passed Texas House Bill 3, Hallsville ISD tax payers will see a $0.07 decrease per $100 home valuation in their tax rate, whether the bond passes on Nov. 5 or not.
The district will see its maintenance and operations tax rate reduced from $1.04 to $0.97. The district’s interest and sinking (debt) tax rate will remain steady at $0.33, making a total $1.30 tax rate, down from $1.37 last year, per $100 of home value
The district’s trustees voted unanimously in August to call the two bond elections, citing a need for a new elementary school due to rapid growth at the district.
“Over the past 10 years, Hallsville ISD has seen a significant increase in student enrollment in the district,” Collum said. “Each year, the district has grown by an average of 100 students, with more expected as the surrounding area continues to grow. The new west elementary school would be built to accommodate 750 students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grades.”
The total bond amount would not exceed $55 million, and includes about $29.7 million for a new “West” elementary school campus on land the district already owns near Page Road and Loop 281 in the Longview city limits but Hallsville ISD district.
The bond also includes about $13.8 million for a new 1,000 seat high school auditorium that was originally included on the plans of the district’s 2007 bond that constructed the new Hallsville High School but was later scrapped due to a lack of money remaining. The district’s campuses currently use the auditorium at Hallsville Junior High School.
Next is about $2 million for security updates and aesthetic renovations at Hallsville Junior High School. Security updates would include new doors on the campus building, a two-tiered secure entry vestibule similar to other campuses and cameras throughout the building. Aesthetic updates would include paint, carpet and other restorations.
Next up is about $9.4 million allocated for maintenance and transportation upgrades and needs, which includes five new school buses, parking lot repairs at East Elementary School and Hallsville Junior High School, roof repairs at East Elementary School, Hallsville Junior High School, the football field house and concession stands and facility upgrades at East Elementary and HVAC repairs. The $9.4 million also includes new band equipment that Collum said the district has not been able to afford to make room for in the annual budget.