HALLSVILLE — Thanks to a recent drop in federal interest rates, Hallsville ISD has increased its proposed bond by $5 million, to a total of $55 million, and Superintendent Jeff Collum said voters will still see a tax decrease.

“We originally told you we could get a $50 million bond without raising taxes,” Collum said during a Thursday community input meeting about the bond proposal. “Well, now thanks to the federal interest rate bottoming out in the past couple of weeks, our finance people came back to us and said we can add $5 million to that and still not raise the tax rate at all.”

Questions on Thursday from about three dozen attendees ranged from traffic issues at the new proposed elementary school campus to maintenance issues of the new proposed facilities down the road.

One attendee questioned the district’s plunge into more debt when the district still owes about $55 million on its 2007 bond, but Collum said part of the financial plan for the district includes refinancing that debt.

The district also is planning to move about $3 million of its debt from the maintenance and operations side to its interest and sinking side to free up about $650,000 a year that the district could use for its needs, he said.

Collum said that because of an influx of state funding to school districts as part of the recently passed House Bill 3, Hallsville ISD taxpayers will see a 7-cent decrease per $100 home valuation in their tax rate, whether or not the bond passes.

The district will see its maintenance and operations tax rate reduced from $1.04 to 97 cents per $100 valuation. The district’s interest and sinking tax rate will remain steady at 33 cents per $100 valuation, making a total $1.30 tax rate, down from $1.37 last year, per $100 valuation.

“I’m not saying your tax rates won’t go up,” Collum said. “The district doesn’t control your property values. If your property values go up, your tax rate will go up, but property values going up is a good thing.

“But the school district tax rate will not increase with or without the bond. It will reduce 7 cents.”

Collum said with the extra $5 million in the proposed bond, the district can address some pressing maintenance needs on its facilities and purchase much needed new school buses.

The total proposed bond amount would be about $54.9 million, not to exceed $55 million, and would include about $29.7 million for a new “west” elementary school campus on land the district already owns near Page Road and Loop 281 in the Longview city limits but Hallsville ISD district.

Collum said feedback so far on the bond proposal has been positive through an online survey on the district’s website at hisd.com/bond .

“So far, we’ve had 643 responses to the $50 million bond proposal package, and now we’d like everyone to fill out a survey about the newest $55 million proposal,” Collum said. “Of the responses we’ve had so far, 61 percent of the respondents have not been employees, and 80 percent of them have children or grandchildren at the district.”

The survey results so far show that about 86 percent of those surveyed strongly agree or are somewhat in favor of a new elementary campus, 86 percent felt the same about a new high school auditorium, 94 percent supported the junior high upgrades, 95 percent supported the maintenance and transportation proposals, 81 percent supported the new band equipment and overall, about 85 percent were OK with the bond amount.

The board of trustees’ deadline to vote on putting the bond on an election ballot is Aug. 19. If approved, early voting would run Oct. 21 through Nov. 1, and election day would be Nov. 5.