By unanimous vote, and without much fanfare, the Edcouch-Elsa school board of trustees last Wednesday chose to cancel a $24.2 million bond election that had been slated to go before voters beginning this week.
“There is a resolution in your packet with respect to the tax bond election and our advice is that the board approve that resolution, which essentially postpones the bond election so the board can further study its implications on the community, on the taxpayers,” said the district’s legal counsel during last week’s special meeting.
Even before the attorney could finish explaining the rationale behind the cancellation, trustee Fernando Torres motioned to approve. Trustee Juan Jose Ybarra quickly seconded, followed by the board’s unanimous vote.
The decision came after the board spent more than an hour behind closed doors in executive session discussing the election and another matter.
Dusty Traylor, with global investment bank RBC Capital Markets, was on hand to answer any concerns the board may have had regarding the bond proposal, but the board chose not to hear from him, neither before nor after going into executive session.
Traylor had previously explained a pair of bond election proposals to the board in February.
During a meeting held Feb. 13, Traylor presented two options to the board.
Option 1 would have called for a $20 million tax bond to fund various improvement projects within the district. Option 2 would have offered voters two distinct bond propositions: Prop A, calling for approximately $15 million for improvements projects, and Prop B, calling for approximately $8 million to re-finance the district’s current outstanding tax note obligations.
The board ultimately chose option 2, with the final language on the ballot calling for $16 million in Prop A and $8.2 million for Prop B.
According to Traylor’s February presentation, the bond proposal would, in effect, raise the district’s tax levy to approximately $1.43 cents per $100 valuation — approximately 18 cents above its current $1.2508 tax rate.
For a homeowner whose home had a taxable value of $50,000, the bond would potentially increase their taxes by $90.96 per year, Traylor said.
It’s unclear why district officials decided to cancel the election. District offices were closed Monday due to the Easter holiday.
Officials at the Hidalgo County Elections Department said they were notified of the cancellation last Wednesday and took action to remove the election from their listings.
A sample ballot remained available as of Monday morning, but was soon removed.
Asked if the district will still incur the thousands of dollars in fees associated with the county’s administration of the now-cancelled election, the spokesperson could not answer.