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ABC Big 2 News
Sit down with ECISD’s Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri, on the 2023 Bond
By Madalyn Bierster,
ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – This week ECISD’s Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri spoke with Big 2 about the 2023 bond.
“So we have a bond package, total package of about $437 million, divided into three different Propositions: A, B, and C. The largest proposition is Proposition A, and it contains the majority of the bond items things such as a new career and technical education facility, and a new middle school for the western part of Ector County. Some investments in special education students, our JROTC program, our athletic program, our fine arts, so a lot of items in Proposition A,” said Dr. Muri.
There are a lot of proposed improvements included in this bond. The two other Props focus on athletics.
“Proposition B, we call the Ratliff Stadium Proposition primarily, or actually everything there is focused on the Ratliff Stadium complex, the biggest item in there is reconditioning the concrete of the stadium, it’s 40 years old, and it’s starting to show its age, it begins to crack a little bit. And so we’re going to recondition the stadium to make sure it can last another 40 years, and then add some lights. So you’ve probably been to a Friday night lights game, the parking lot can be a little dark, so we want to add some lighting,” said Dr. Muri.
“Then Proposition C is for Odessa High School and Permian High School at Odessa; specifically, it would be the creation of a new indoor practice facility for students. And then at Permian High School, they have a practice facility, so it’s replacing the turf that is in their facility. So those are the three Propositions A, B, and C, total cost: 437 million,” said Dr. Muri.
For homeowners and taxpayers, all the above: how does that affect everybody?
“Yeah, the nice thing about it is there is a 00 tax rate increase. In fact, it’s a little bit of an interesting twist. So a week ago, I would have told you that the tax rate in Ector County is $1.17. But actually last week, our board of trustees lowered the tax rate to $1.01, and so our taxpayers are actually going to see a 16-cent decrease in their taxes, and at the same time, they get a bond that doesn’t touch the tax rate at all,” said Dr. Muri.
This was a point of concern for many people in the community, so we asked how old debts were able to be paid off.
“Last week, our board of trustees made a decision to pay off, much like you and I might make an early mortgage payment, we paid off some debt early to the tune of about $34 million last week. And so we’ve we’ve done this for the last several years, we’ve actually saved our taxpayers about $33 million in interest payments alone by paying off those bonds early. So our indebtedness is now about $83 million. Once that payment is made, our debt will decrease to about $83 million in ECISD,” said Dr. Muri.
Dr. Muri also answered the question, ‘Where did that money come from that you paid the debts?’
“Well, yeah, so the debt belongs to the taxpayers that belongs to our community, and the money belongs to the taxpayers of members of our community. And so we’re using the community’s money to pay off the community’s debt. And so it is tax money that is generated, and tax money that is used to pay off the debt of the members of our community,” said Dr. Muri. “So we’ve had bonds even before 2012. And so we’re paying off those bonds, we purchase bonds over time. But actually, once we make these payments, the most recent bond we’ll have is from the year 2020. So we actually issued some debt in 2020, that was a part of an old bond,” said Dr. Muri.
Dr. Muri also spoke on tax compression in West Texas.
“Tax compression is something that, that really is made possible because the state of Texas is picking up a little bit more of the cost of educating our students. And when that happens, it allows us locally to push down the tax rate. And so what we do with that is we pay off debt, we want to save our taxpayers as much money as we possibly can. And so over the last three years, we’ve been paying off the community’s debt. And that has allowed us again to save 26 million over the last three years. We did that again, last week. So now the total savings of just in interest alone is $33 million,” said Dr. Muri.
So you might ask how would other campuses besides Permian and Odessa High benefit from this proposed bond?
“One of the interesting parts of this particular bond referendum, especially the items of proposition A would be that it touches every school in ECISD. So we have 45 schools in Ector County. And so proposition A touches each of those facilities,” said Dr. Muri.
Another important part of improvements to the district is ramping up security efforts for students and staff.
“There is safety and security money in the bond, one particular item in there for safety and security is replacing all of our cameras. And so we have aging cameras. We have cameras in every facility in ECISD, they’re aging out. And so we’ll do a complete infrastructure replacement of every single camera and ECISD so that anytime we have an issue, our police officers have a chance to see those cameras. We use that footage to make decisions and see different things that happen within the schools. They provide a great additional layer of security,” said Dr. Muri.
He says many locals he’s spoken with support the bond because it will indirectly affect them in the long run.
“People see even though they’re not directly connected with this bond referendum, but they will have indirect benefits because of this type of investment,” said Dr. Muri.