LA FERIA — When the school board introduced and broke down the May 7, $14 million bond election, it was explained to property taxpayers as paying $2.38 per month more on an average home.
One board member compared the bond cost per property taxpayer to the price of a hamburger.
But not everyone agrees with the explanation or figures.
“The superintendent is playing with numbers,” said Yousef Mughrabi, a La Feria homeowner. “What La Feria decided to do in a sneaky-tricky way was showing the tax increase per month.”
Mughrabi called it a bad practice by the district to talk about the increase per month instead of per year.
“They made it sound like it’s $2.38. So, if you give up a hamburger you’re going to be OK,” Mughrabi said.
Mughrabi said he already pays $2,900 in taxes to the La Feria school district each year. He claims if the bond passes he will pay around $180 more.
“It’s a big chuck of money,” Mughrabi said.
He said he is willing to give up a hamburger, but he doesn’t want the taxpayers to be fooled into giving it up for the bond.
“I’m always looking for the best interest of the school district and the taxpayers,” Mughrabi said.
The school district website states the future tax increase would be $2.38 per month on the average La Feria ISD home value of $65,000.
The Residence Homestead Exemption removes part of the homeowner’s value from taxation.
“They automatically deducted $25,000 homestead exemption without revealing this important fact of the house, instead of the true value of $65,000,” he said.
If a home is appraised at $100,000, an applicant can qualify for a $25,000 exemption to pay school taxes on the home as if it was assessed at only $75,000.
Mughrabi said although some taxpayers might qualify for the homestead exemption, he claims the administration made the assumption that everyone in the district would receive the $25,000 homestead exemption.
“This is completely inaccurate and deceptive, to say the least,” Mughrabi said. “You can’t simply assume that everyone in the district would qualify for the $25,000 homestead exemption.”
Attempts to contact the La Feria superintendent were unsuccessful.
The La Feria ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously at a regular board meeting on Jan. 11 to call a $14 million bond election asking voters to consider the proposition.
If approved, it would provide funding for C.E. Vail Elementary, construction of an agriculture barn at La Feria High, construction security vestibules and additional improvements to each campus pending the availability of funds.
A La Feria School District 2016 Bond Election at a glance document states a facilities report by an independent engineering firm delineates significant structural and space deficiencies at C.E. Vail Elementary.
The report recommends the demolition of several unsafe structures and repair and modernization to the remaining campus.
If voters approve a bond issue before Sept. 1, the state of Texas will fund approximately 70 percent of the total amount through a program known as the Instructional Facilities Allotment.
In dollars, local taxpayers would be responsible for $4.2 million of the $14 million bond election and the state of Texas would fund the balance of $9.8 million.
Taxes will not increase as a result of this bond election for senior citizens 65 years or older.
The registration deadline to be eligible to vote in the May 7 election is April 7.