Lake Travis snags $253 million bond, Eanes tax measure approved

At the tally of the final unofficial vote, Lake Travis school district residents approved a $253 million bond package that will fund the construction of elementary school No. 7 and middle school No. 3 and other district needs. With 5,801 votes tallied, 74.45 percent of voters cast their ballot in favor of the bond.

Voters also approved a proposition to move 2 cents of the property tax rate from the district’s interest and savings fund over to its maintenance and operations fund, keeping the tax rate the same. WIth 5,765 votes tallied, 70.53 percent of voters approved of the tax measure.

Eanes school district voters approved the district’s proposed “tax swap and drop” measure by a landslide. With 5,882 votes tallied, 88.76 percent of voters favored the tax rate change, which dropped the tax rate while placing more revenue in its maintenance and operations fund.

The proposed Lake Travis bond will pay for the school district’s third middle school for approximately $76.2 million, as well as the district’s seventh elementary school for roughly $33.1 million. The bond will fund land purchases for future school campuses and will pay for the the retrofitting of old buses with seat belts for $1.3 million.

The bond also includes funding for building renovations and items needed for each campus, including furniture, technology upgrades, library books, updated playgrounds, turf improvements, uniforms for athletes and fine arts students, cafeteria equipment and more.

The “penny exchange” or “tax swap” asked voters to decide whether or not they want to move two cents from the district’s interest and sinking fund to its maintenance and operations fund, keeping the overall tax rate the same. District officials said the revenue is needed for the district’s operational budget since state funding has decreased by about $200 per student over the past six years.

“We lost $2.2 million this September due to the loss of ASATR - Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction,” Superintendent Brad Lancaster said. “This is, simply put, just filling that hole … it’s essentially going to balance the budget. Without it, we’d have a $2.1 million budget deficit.”

Eanes voters approved a tax measure that moves 3.25 cents per $100 property valuation away from the district’s debt fund and increase the maintenance and operations fund by 2 cents, thereby decreasing the tax rate overall. District officials said that if the measure didn’t pass, the district might have needed to make difficult decisions about the budget, perhaps having to freeze staff salaries, cut programs or cut staff.

“I think the reason it’s passing by such a large margin is we found the right message and equation for the commuity and the school district,” Superintendent Tom Leonard said Tuesday evening before final voting numbers were reported. “For taxpayers, we’re actually lowering the rate, which is rare - almost no one lowers the rate. And under the system with the two additional golden pennies, we will get additional revenue to help us.”

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