Taxpayers in a Houston-area school district may suffer from sticker shock this fall when they head to the polls to vote on a $992.6 million bond referendum.

This week, Fort Bend ISD trustees unanimously voted to place the nearly $1 billion referendum on the November 6 ballot. When the board met in June to discuss the bond, they considered asking the public to approve $1.7 billion, but said they would decide on the final package at the August 13 meeting. While it seems as though they reduced the bond ask, they really just broke it into two different issuances.

The final $992.6 million referendum, which tops $1 billion when interest is factored in, is meant to “fund the first of a two-phase, six-year plan to address capital needs in the District.” They are already planning to ask voters to approve a “second-phase bond” of $705.2 million in three years. According to the Texas Bond Review Board, FBISD’s current debt is $1.2 billion which is one of the highest when compared to school districts of similar size.

$992.6 million broken down:

The capital plan, which guided development of the proposal, shows expenditures broken down even further on projects like $3 million for a new student ID system, $1.6 million for police vehicles, $3.7 million for “staff computer refresh,” and more. Though the current bond doesn’t call for a natatorium, the documents show they’ll be asking $14 million in the 2021 bond for one.

The bond also calls for a projected 3-cent tax increase, bringing the district’s rate to $1.35, but FBISD said they don’t plan for that increase to come immediately. But with a second bond just a few short years away, taxpayers will undoubtedly feel an increase sooner rather than later.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.