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Voters upset after Longview ISD's recent $5.6 million land purchase, district says it's an investment

"To me that's a slap in the face to every voter and taxpayer in the Longview ISD district," said Debbie Fontaine, Longview resident.

LONGVIEW, Texas — A number of voters are upset after Longview ISD recently purchased over $5 million worth of land, despite a bond issue failing in May.

Debbie Fontaine is a Longview resident, business owner and Longview ISD parent alum. Fontaine has been vocal about her thoughts toward the land purchase. 

"To me that's a slap in the face to every voter and taxpayer in the Longview ISD district," Fontaine said.

On the May 4 ballot, every proposition for the district, which was seeking to fund multiple renovations to campuses, failed. 

"They said no, loudly," Fontaine said. "Voters said no to Proposition A."

For Fontaine, it was the timing that steered her away from voting yes. 

"Asking people that received tax increases, 41-year high inflation, gas through the ceiling to give more, to go into more debt," Fontaine said. "I mean how ridiculous is that."

Fontaine also said taxpayers are still paying off the previous bond. 

"15 years ago, I supported that bond because we needed new schools," Fontaine said. "To find out that over $200,000 of that is still unpaid, that would put us in one of the highest bond debts if this bond went through." 

Superintendent James Wilcox said back in 2008, bonds were sold in different increments of 20 to 30 years. 

"Those will be paid out over that period," Wilcox said. "The district has paid off over $170 million of that early."

Despite the failed bond, the district purchased the land near the high school campus for $5.6 million one month later. 

"That was the only land next to LISD that we even had the opportunity to buy," Wilcox said. "The district is totally pleased." 

Although there's nothing set in stone for the new land as of yet, Wilcox said the purchase was an investment for the community.

"When expansion is needed for programs, that land will be available," Wilcox said. "There's a lot of things being made these days, but there's no more land being made."

Some voters expressed disappointment with the district's decision via social media. 

"Why put it on the bond if you were going to do it anyway," Fontaine asked. 

Fontaine said the district should've used the money to repair bathrooms within the schools. 

It wasn't just the property purchase alone that has voters like Fontaine upset, but the price the district paid. 

The Gregg Appraisal District lists the market value of the 62-acre land as $365,000. But the district said for development purposes, they got a great deal.  

"If you look at comparable property purchase in that area, you will find we got a bargain and we got that at a reduced price per acre of what real estate developers are paying for that area," Wilcox said. "And that's not agriculture use." 

Wilcox said voters and taxpayers will not see a property tax increase. Wilcox said at the next board meeting, he expects to announce a property tax decrease for the fourth year in a row. 

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