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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
February 6, 2003     Hays Free Press
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February 6, 2003

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hge 2 me Free Press Februa 6, 2003 BY BRENT STRONG members of Scenic Texas to discuss Staff Writer loopholes in the city's sign ordinance. The proposed date was typed in an B UDA- The biggest debate in front e-mail, which Brace handed to Buda of the Buda city council Tuesday Mayor John Trube. A spirited debate night centered on the sign ordinance, ensued amongst councilwoman Cathy but it was policy, rather than politics, Chilcote, councilman Hutch White and that dominated the discussion, councilman Chuck Murphy. Much of Donna Martin-Brace, a member of the discussion was geared towards Buda's Planning and Zoning more clear communication between the Commission (P&Z), asked for coun- P&Z, the Buda Area Chamber of eli's approval of a Feb. 25 meeting with Commerce (BACC) and council regarding the sign ordinance. When cooler heads prevailed, the sides agreed to keep better communication in gener- al, and particularly regarding the sign ordinance. Members of the BACC and council were invited to attend a session on Feb. 25 to hear discussion regarding the sign ordinance. The P&Z will then take a vote on its recommendation to council for the March 4 council meeting. Also discussed during Tuesday's meeting were the new traffic regula- tions along Loop 4 during the 45-60 day drainage project-related roadwork. The speed limit will be lowered from 50 mph to 30 mph one-half mile on either side of the intersection at Sequoyah Street. In other developments: Council held the first of two pub- lic hearings for the zoning change from agricultural to medium density for the property located on FM 967, common- ly known as the Cullen Tract. The city will post a public hearing notice regarding the city's impact fees. The public hearing is scheduled for March 11. The city canvassed the votes for the Feb. 1 rollback election. Voters moved overwhelmingly, 227-98, to roll back the city's property tax rate to 13.1 cents per $100 of assessed value from 21.99 cents. BY BILL PETERSON that the state might be served to Editor look into a statewide property or income tax towards funding AUSTIN - All around Texas,schools. public school districts are The measure calls for Robin holding their breath about the Hood to be repealed no later than furore, especially those districts Sept. 1, 2005. While prohibiting with low property wealth. And school districts from levying they have no idea when they'll operating taxes at that point, they be able to exhale, still would be allowed to tax for Tuesday, the Public building debt. Education Committee at the Hays CISD Director of Texas House of Representatives Finance Annette Folmar said the voted, 6-2, to repeal the state's death of Robin Hood, with noth- public school equalization provi- ing in its place, would seriously sions, popularly known as Robin compromise school districts Hood. However, the committee attempting to plan for even the has proposed nothing in its place, near term. "Everything is on the table," "The thought that they would said the committee chair, pass a law putting an end to the Arlington Republican Kent state funding system, it's discon- Grusendorf, who has suggested certing," Folmar said. " If the 'do not harm' principle doesn't hold, we could really be upside down." The Hays CISD is a benefi- ciary of Robin Hood, which pro- vides that school districts with $305,000 per student in property value must turn over the excess to the state, which redistributes the money to property poor dis- tricts. The Hays CISD has $156,861 in property value per student. As Grusendorf attempts to force the legislature to take action by doing away with Robin Hood and forcing a replacement, some of his colleagues believe that's the wrong approach. 'q'he thing that bothers me about (the bill)," said Houston Democrat Scott Hochberg, a Bond Package Opponents, from page 1 issue last week. Leander ranks bond debt are paid from two dif- along major arterials. Hence, the 216th in the state in property ferent taxes, though it all comes large increases in Leander, which wealth, out the same on the property tax is on U.S. Hwy. 183, and Manor, Of course, the average of debt bill. On the Maintenance and which is on U.S. Hwy. 290. The per student decreases with every Operations (M&O) side of the tax, Hays CISD is on the heavyweight year the Hays CISD keeps adding which funds instruction, the Hays of the local arterials, IH-35. Of students. But if the growth doesn't CISD levies $1.30 per $100 of course, that doesn't explain the come, the debt won't go away. assessed value. Many school dis- decline in San Marcos. The school district says it tricts levy the state maximum of Going back to the 2001 can't wait until the legislature $1.50. The Hays CISD could east- bond, many have criticized the decides how it will fund public ly raise its M&O rate to $1.50 and school board for selling $53.4 education before starting new thereby increase the percentage of million in capital depreciation building projects, because the dis- its budget spent on instruction, bonds on which the district would trict's growth is real. The district But who would want to pay it? make no payments until 2001. has grown by about 600 students Basically the school bond Those critics don't give the rea- per year for the last five years, comes down to a bet. If the school son for structuring the debt that Probably, district can district doesntt grow, then not only way. make do with the buildings online are new buildings unnecessary, The district already~was car- for a couple years, but property owners will be stuck rying $6.6 million in debt service However, the district has with ever-higher taxes to pay for per year for 2002 through 2007 geared its planning, including the them. However, if the school dis- from previous bond issues. By school district attendance zones, trict does grow and the buildings deferring more than half of the based on passage of this month's aren't provided beforehand, then 2001 bond issue until 2011, the bond. That means the bond's fall- the school district's facilities will district increased its debt service ure could necessitate another be woefully inadequate, by about $3 million per year from round of redistricting, which is a Dr. Pat Gussman, the demog- 2002 through 2004, then by about painful process that stands to rapher retained by the Hays$5.5 million from 2005 through make a lot of parents unhappier CISD, told the school board last 2007. than they already are. Maybe the week that Hays ranks third inThe deferred bonds allow the school district shouldn't have been growth for Central Texas school school district to even out the making assumptions, but that's for districts from September 2001 to total debt service from all its the voters to decide. September 2002. The Hays CISD bond issues, so it will whittle off When Lehman High School growth rate of 7.13 trails only between $9 million and $12 mil- opens in 2004, it will have enough Manor (13.07 percent) and lion per year until the 2001 bonds room to alleviate crowding at Leander (7.37 percent). Some are retired. If the district hadn't Wallace Middle School for a cou- districts in Central Texas are deferred $53.4 million in bonds pie years. But probably no longer shrinking, like San Marcos (0.35 for ten years, then the debt ser- than that. Beyond that, there's percent) and Eanes (1.9 percent), vice in the future would be con- always portables. Austin increased 1.18 percent, siderably lower - as would the Bond opponents say the Hays Gussman said the general total interest payments - but CISD is unable to pay more than population growth in the Austin today it would be much higher. 43 percent of its expenditures for area is taking on a peculiar shape, And if you don't like your tax bill instruction because of high debt. since it isn't occuring evenly from today, imagine what it would be Yes and no. the center of Austin. Instead, she like if those bonds hadn't been Instructional expenditures and said, the growth is happening deferred. DR. BARNES" I I I IIIIIIIEXPRESS of Single Vision, Inch/des Frame & Lenses LIZ r-lalhoPne -SIDIRIT GANT U.S.A. S T E T S O N FLE XON a ie3 Calvin Klein (; U E S S TOMMYi~HILFIGER I~ IlJlil! R, lil't i I AI ia,; Large Selection of Designer Frames to Choose From America can depend on Farmers' DEBBIE THAMES Agent Thames Insurance Agency is now sewing your area. 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It's no different if the committee expressed concern courts point the gun, or if we that a new school funding mech- do." anism would fail to preserve the Folmar echoed a number of principle of equalization, which witnesses before the committee, is supposed to ensure that all who questioned the usefulness of children receive an adequate killing Robin Hood without education. However, Grusen- putting a specific, constructive doff said the legislature would program on the table, be bound to equalization. "It would be good so you "If we were bound by court could have a comparison," order, we would continue to be Folmar said. "You could say, bound by those considerations in the future," Grusendorf said. But that didn't stop witness- es from arguing against the measure. At one point, Grusendorf put a question to Wayne Pierce, Director of the Equity Center, a group of prop- erty-poor districts, as Pierce spoke against the repeal. 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