Victoria voters rejected the Victoria school district’s $156.8 million bond proposal on Saturday.
The bond proposal received 3,128 votes in favor and 4,006 votes against. About 15% of registered voters voted in Saturday's election
The multimillion dollar bond calls for the rebuild of Stroman Middle School for $73.7 million and Mission Valley Elementary School for $23 million. It also calls for district-wide repairs for $58.4 million and the addition of playgrounds at each elementary school for $1.5 million.
If approved by voters, the middle school would take about three years to plan, construct and open. The elementary school would take about two years.
The bond came with a tax increase to voters. It would have increased the district’s Interest and Sinking tax rate by 7.5 cents per $100 assessed valuation, according to the bond proposal. That would have amounted to about $75 annually for a home valued at $100,000.
Bonds are typically paid off in 30 years.
People who are 65 years or older and have filed a homestead exemption would not have been affected by the school bond tax increase. These property owners can see school tax increases if major renovations have been done to the home.
School board president Mike Mercer said he appreciated the community involvement when it came to the bond. He would have liked to have seen a higher voter turnout though, he said.
Mercer, who is a member of the Building Our Futures Together group in favor of the bond, and about 20 others gathered for a Election Day watch party to watch the bond ballot item.
Early election results were not on the groups side, but Mercer and others held out hope for a good outcome.
“I’m hoping it carries,” Mercer said. “Even in the event it doesn’t, this was an incredibly important decision for the community to make.”
Victoria resident Jayne Lemke favored the $156.8 million bond.
“I am a strong supporter of it,” Lemke said. “Our facilities have exceeded usefulness.”
Lemke said she would like to see local dollars go toward the betterment of future generations here in Victoria.
As a business owner, Lemke sees the bond as a way to boost the economy. Residents should stop postponing the passage of a bond because it is desperately needed now, she said.
In November 2017, Victoria residents shot down a $157 million school bond. That bond looked to rebuild Mission Valley and Stroman along with two other campuses. It also looked to create a multiactivity complex. That election took place months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall.
Victoria resident Emmet Alvarez voted against the bond. He said it will be a challenge for the bond to receive enough votes in favor to catch up.
“I don’t feel good,” he said. “It’s not a good thing when you get rejected twice.“
Alvarez said the district made a good attempt at including the community in the bond process, but some of the big ticket items like the rebuild of Stroman missed the mark.
Victoria resident Bill Pozzi, who also serves as the county’s Republican chairman, who said he was on the fence when it comes to the $156.8 million bond. But, he is leaning toward voting no.
There are portions of the bond Pozzi likes, such as the rebuild of Mission Valley and the district-wide repairs.
The hesitation for voting yes comes with the Stroman rebuild because of the $73.7 million price tag, Pozzi said.
“It’s a lot of money,” he said. “I just think $73 million is too much for Stroman.”
Pozzi said Saturday he voted in favor of the bond on Election Day.
This story was updated May 3, 2021 to clarify how the tax increase would have affected people aged 65 and older.