Battle of the bonds: TISD vs. Smith County

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Tuesday morning, Smith County commissioners agreed to put their $33,000,000 jail bond proposal on hold.

Monday night, Tyler ISD proposition voters with a $89,000,000 school bond.  It will appear on the November ballot.

County officials said it's put them in an interesting imposition.

"The likelihood of a jail bond passing at the same time with the school district's bond passing is almost impossible," said Jeff Warr, Smith County commissioner.

"Once again, the county has to back up, re-track, and figure out what we have to do," said JoAnn Hampton, commissioner of precinct four.

The plan may include bypassing voters, all together.  Hampton said she is still in favor of issuing Certificates of Obligation.  At the very least, commissioners said the certificates could help reduce operating costs at the jail by allowing the county to move forward with much needed renovations.

"We have to decide if this is an issue that we have been elected to take care of, or if this is something we're going to continue to wait and let other groups decide when we should do it," said Hampton.

JoAnn Fleming with "Grassroots America, We the People," a political action committee, said the last thing tax-payers need is more debt.

"Continue looking for ways to stretch tax dollars and deliver the highest quality service at the very best price," she said.

"We did question the timing with the tax payers, with the economy being in such a difficult state," said Randy Reid, TISD superintendent.

Reid said the district already purchased land for one of three new schools using money left from the last bond election.  He said there would be no tax hike, but residents could be paying the taxes at the current rate for a longer period of time.

"We have to prove up to everybody that this is the absolute best we can do," said Warr.

The county said, ideally, its jail election would be called for an election in May 2011.

Copyright 2010 KLTV. All rights reserved.