The Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Austin Independent School District over its $892 million bond package residents will vote on in a special election May 11. The district says the bond would be used to pay for a variety of capital projects to ease overcrowding, improve technology, security and other systemic repairs.
The TCTU says AISD failed to include in the ballot language the maximum property tax rate levied on residents or if the tax rate is unlimited.
"The ballot language says 'we're going to levy a tax.' It doesn't say if it's limited by a certain amount and it doesn't tell the taxpayers if its unlimited," said Don Zimmerman, the founder of the TCTU.
In community meetings and district documents, AISD says the maximum tax rate increase will be 3.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value by the year 2016, or an average of $70 for a median value home. But Zimmerman says there isn't anything in the ballot language that holds the district to that amount.
"It's an optimistic estimate and it has absolutely zero legal binding. It's completely meaningless," Zimmerman said. "That tax rate could be double, triple or more and there's nothing the voters can do about it."
AISD released a statement Monday before the TCTU filed the lawsuit.
"We are confident that the district is complying with all laws related to the May bond election," the statement read. "The district has and will continue to provide the public with factual information about the May bond election and the scope of work at each of its facilities."
KUT News has not yet gotten an updated comment from the school district.
Zimmerman says TCTU is asking the Travis County Court to hold a hearing this week and postpone the election until AISD fixes the ballot language.