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Bowie County's chief tax appraiser will NOT endorse Doug Brubaker's $189 million TISD bond election

Sep 28, 2022
Bowie County's chief appraiser, Michael Brower, said he cannot and will not endorse a massive $189 million bond election after TISD released a video of him explaining homestead exemptions to senior citizens.

Texarkana ISD pinned the video of Mike Brower to the very top of their Facebook page, making many believe it was an endorsement. But he said it was not.

"We do not endorse," Brower told Texarkana News. "We do not endorse anything. I did that for informational purposes."

However, Brower said he had concerns about making the video but that he "felt better" when he heard that "others had done it."

TISD asked Brower to record the video

The school district requested that Brower record the video, and it was recorded in a TISD studio.

The hardworking chief appraiser said he initially had reservations about recording the video because he did not want it to be seen as an endorsement.

He added: "The jurisdictions pay dues which fund our budget. And if the jurisdiction needs me to explain something to people, I usually try to do it."

A quiet campaign

Superintendent Doug Brubaker appears to be using the chief appraiser's video as its primary campaign tool in its very low-key bond election campaign. 

A TISD employee told Texarkana News that the school district's subtle approach to the bond issue is purposeful. 

The employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "The more people talk about the bond issue, the less likely it is to pass. This is a terrible economic climate for a bond election, and they likely asked for too much." 

Tough economic times in Texarkana

About 48% of residents in Texarkana are renters, according to national data from data firm Niche. Any citizen renting a property in the TISD district will likely see a rental increase due to the rise in property taxes - including senior citizens.

Asked if rents could rise, Chief Appraiser Mike Brower said: "Yes, property owners will want to recoup what they pay in taxes."

In addition, senior citizens often help younger family members with living expenses in challenging economic times. And requests from family members will likely grow just as the cost of living increases.

A bold lie

Making chief appraiser Mike Brower's video appear to be a pseudo-endorsement is a crafty election trick from Supt. Doug Brubaker. And it is a politically savvy move that could soothe the anxiety of seniors - even though it shouldn't.

However, the superintendent's worst move is a bold lie about safety and security. On the TISD bond election website, the school district promises a list of safety and security measures that were already passed and approved in June 2022. Click here to read more.

About a month after the Uvalde shooting, the TISD Board of Trustees passed $1.95 million for safety and security. The Board also appropriated money for the safety issues.

TISD is advertising the same safety and security issues as part of the bond election - even though its 4,500-word "Notice of Election" does not mention it. 

But the Board of Trustees added around $2 million to the bond issue to pay itself back for the money it spent on safety and security. And this stunt will actually cost taxpayers an ADDITIONAL $2 million in amortized interest - for a total of approx. $4 million.

So TISD and Superintendent Doug Brubaker are propagating a costly and despicable lie because the safety and security measures will happen whether or not the bond election propositions pass or fail. And $1.95 million has already been appropriated to pay for it.

Proof that the school district is misleading voters can be found on the TISD website from a report of its June 29, 2022, board meeting. A news release put out by the district announces that $1.95 million has been funded for safety and security measures. Click here to read. And the TISD campaign website shows that the district is now promising the same safety and security measures in the bond election. Click here to read.

More than $350 million?

TISD has not explained why it is asking for such an unusual, exorbitant amount during tough economic times when many local citizens struggle to pay for basic necessities.

The $189 million bond election will raise property taxes. In its "Notice of Election," TISD itself estimated that the bond election would cost Texarkana taxpayers $365 million when amortized over 30 years at 4.35% interest. Click here to read more. Moreover, bond markets have been rocked, so the amount could be tens of millions higher.

The highest-ever bond election in Bowie County was $39 million, and TISD's last successful bond issue was $29 million. So the district's request is not normal. TISD still owes around $32 million - or around $56 million including amortized interest. So a successful bond issue would cause the school district's total debt with interest to be more than $420 million - or about $60,000 of debt for each of its approximately 7,000 students.

Most people do not know that the Board of Trustees has the right to raise taxes even further to service the debt on any bond proposal approved by voters - without having another election. So property taxes could go up even higher with the current volatility of economic markets.

The Texarkana ISD bond election is set for November 8, 2022. Early voting will begin on October 24, 2022.

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