Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

I believe in the old saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.  The Hand that feeds the school is the TAXPAYERS.  Take care of the taxpayers and they will take care of you.  First rule of ethics is “Thou Shalt Do No Harm”.  Discretion granted to a leader is often taken as “I can do what I want” when in fact it should be a choice between OUGHTS and not WANTS.   There is no room for “WANTS”.  We can only choose the “OUGHTS”.   I applaud the Hospital for choosing to Re-Hab the South Wing of the Hospital instead of building new.  This building is close to 50 years old.  If it works for the Hospital, why can’t it work for the School?

• Van Horn has the historical nature of “BOOM and BUST”.

• Number of Households—749— Population is 2063—  Average Home Value is 45,000 dollars.

• Percent of locals on SS—25%   Culberson County is more dependent on SS that the rest of the Country.  400 to 500 people receive SS in some form either (1) old age pension (2) Survivor Benefit (3) Disability Benefit.

• In the 2000 census there were 372 people classified as Disabled.  109  (29%) were over age of 65 and 263 (38%)  in the age group of 21 to 64 (working group) were listed as having a disability.

• Percent of locals in Poverty—26%.

• 63% of the families in Van Horn Have No children under the age of 18 in the home.

• 39% of the households in Van Horn have 1 or more people 60 years or older in the household, so the working taxpayer is now supporting extra members in their homes.

• 29% of People/Population in Van Horn Rent homes.

• Estimated median household income is 36,544 dollars.

• 10.96% of the County’s resident taxpayer moved to other Counties in 2011.

• Predicted Population Change for Culberson County by 2017 is a Negative 14.8% (-14.8%). Culberson County has been steadily losing population since 2000.

• Owner Households with a Mortgage is 43.05%.

• Oil needs to stay at 50.00 dollars per barrel for oil companies to compete.

• 92 tax law suits pending in Culberson County now with an average of 2 per month being filed.

• Many people in Town are holding two to three jobs just to make ends meet.

• Just because an oil company Drills, doesn’t mean that Product is Produced.

• The School tells that over 65 won’t have to pay extra taxes unless one improves the property, but if you own MULTIPLE PROPERTIES you will pay extra taxes.  WHO PAYS at the local level?  If you are between 18 and 64 years old and own property, you are paying for the school.   It’s been reported that for every 500,000 dollars in evaluation, this will be about 2500.00 dollars extra in taxes.  Some motels in town have 1.0 million dollar evaluations and above.  This is 5000.00 dollars extra per year in taxes.  Will this cause the employer to release some employees who need this extra income?

• What about all the Absentee Land Owners and Ranchers?   Have they been notified of this potential tax increase in their property values?

We all know one thing “Oil Industry Here today and Gone tomorrow”.   Is there a solution to solve some of the school’s issues?  Yes.  But, in my opinion it will take much more time and thought from the whole community to come to a solution that will have many Gives and Takes.  After all, it is the Taxpayers Money.  Be careful in what one asks for and/or votes for, because in the long run, it may not be what one really WANTS.

If you break a window in your home, do you not fix it?  Of course you fix it.  In last week’s Advocate, some wiring issues were revealed.  I ask why this wiring issue wasn’t corrected 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago when it was created and then outdated or abandoned.  Had it been fixed in a timely manner, it would not have been on the front page of The Advocate.  Do we really need a 5 million dollar gym?   Call me old fashion, but I never believed that halls and walls granted me an education.  It was my desire influenced by my parents with a staff of administrators and teachers that prepared me for life.  I can’t recall where I blamed halls and walls for my failing a test.

I asked one of the Architects what the State would do to the Taxpayer and the School Officials, if we did Nothing.  The answer was Nothing.   

Depending on your source, your numbers could vary from the numbers I have quoted above.

Concerned Taxpayer

Lyndon McDonald

Dear Editor

This is in response to the letter written by Mr. Tim Head last week.

First I would like to say that I’m an employee at CCAISD.  I’m writing this letter as a citizen of our community, not as an employee.

1.YES, you are correct CCAISD built the football stadium without a bond.  And yes the board borrowed the money.  CCAISD borrowed $4. MILLION not $6 MILLION plus like you stated in your letter, if the cost of the stadium would have been $6. MILLION, $8. MILLION or even $10. MILLION the STUDENTS of our community are completely WORTH it.

2.Yes, you are correct the homes and businesses will be the primary tax payers of this bond. This is the case in the State of Texas and not just in our community.

3.CCAISD will SAVE $25.7 MILLION.  That amount will be recaptured over a 25 year period of time if the BOND CCAISD is proposing passes.  If CCAISD did have that amount of money available, the Superintendent, Mrs. Benavides, and the Board Members would not be asking the people of Van Horn to vote for this particular BOND to build a new school for the students.

4.The issues that this 60 YEAR OLD school building have such as; air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, insulation, fire sprinklers and asbestos. These issues can no LONGER be ignored and CANNOT be corrected during a “comprehensive remodel.”

5.This year CCAISD will have to pay TEA $2.8 MILLION and $4. Million next year of the local tax dollars.  Since you feel that high costs of building operations are largely due to poor planning, poor maintenance and poor management, I invite you to go to one of the Board meetings and give your suggestions on how the CCAISD can better maintain, operate and manage the buildings.

6.The cost of the school bond WILL NOT be the cause of increased prices for a gallon of gasoline, a loaf of bread, tire, or auto parts. If the cost of these items increases it’s because of the cost of living.

7.You are correct the average ages of the homes are older than the schools. But most of the home owners are over 65 years older and there taxes will not be INCREASED.

I would like to encourage the PEOPLE of our community to vote YES to the CCAISD BOND MAY 7th.  OUR STUDENTS DESERVE A NEW SCHOOL.

Thank you,

Florinda Gomez

Dear Editor

I attended a luncheon recently that made me think about our future in Big Bend.  We all support our kids and their future and are proud to do it, but are we doing all we need to do??  Many of our kids leave the Big Bend Area, and I can’t really blame them, I did as well.  I just came back, but many of our kids can’t.  Period.  They have one chance after high school, and that is Sul Ross. If they fail after one or two semesters, they go back home and start working the jobs most of us don’t want, get discouraged, and then leave.  Sul Ross is playing a tremendous part in our future in the Big Bend Area, and we may be failing as Far West Texas for not supporting the university more.   Sul Ross is our university, where our kids can get a good education and later good jobs as well.  Most of these kids are first generation college students, many are first generation high school graduates, and we need to make sure they succeed.  Leaving the area doesn’t have to be the goal, in fact, we need to keep these bright, educated, and talented students in our area so that our communities can survive.  They are our future teachers, city councils, school board, county commissioners, judges, mayors, and our future taxpayers…  They need to succeed. We need to make sure we support our schools, and our kids.  We really don’t need to care if we know any of them on the team, class or club; we just need realize they ARE our team.  If they have a fundraiser, a game, a graduation, or an academic recognition, we need to try to participate and support them.   Sanderson, Marathon, Fort Stockton, Fort Davis, Alpine, Marfa, Presidio, Valentine, Van Horn, Balmorhea, Sierra Blanca or the Big Bend kids, they are still all ours.  They are our future, and we need to make sure we help them shape it….

Justin Cross, Alpine

SRSU Alumni

Dear Editor

The CCAISD Bond is on the ballot for May 7th.  Many people have been talking about it.  I was an employee of the district for many years, and I know the students need a new school.  I was let go from the school but I don’t hold it against the students.  Some people say they will not vote for the bond because they don’t like some adult at the school. The new school is for the students, not the adults.  The people who work at the school will change over the years, but the school will always be here for the kids.  I support the bond and will vote yes to build a new school for our kids and our community.


Carol Barger

Dear Editor

I am writing about the school district bond election to be held on May 7th.  Meetings are being held by the district to inform voters about this critical issue.  Please try to attend one.  In the meantime, consider the following:

First, let me remind everyone that CCAISD has, perhaps, the lowest bonded indebtedness of any 2A school district in Texas.

Second, because we are classified as a rich school district, we’re going to have to send an estimated

$25.7 million (recapture) to the state over the next 30 years.

Third, th bond amount is $30 million spread out over 30 years.  What this really means is that the district will get $30 million worth of improvements for $4.3 million because the state will not force the district to submit the recapture money.  Bonded indebtedness, spent on improvements, is not subject to recapture.

Fourth, look at what the district has already done for the community with the new football field and track facility. Not sure about how many playoff football games have been here, but I know that this year alone, we have hosted seven (7) track meets resulting in lots of money being poured into town.  Without the facility, none of the money would be here.  Same thing holds for baseball playoffs.

Fifth, nearly 85% of the total tax revenue assessed and collected by the district is for minerals, oil & gas none of which is picked up by local taxpayers. Additionally, absentee landowners in the district pick up a large percentage of the tax base and they, too, are not local. Local taxpayers pay about 15% of the district’s taxes. That means that most of the cost of the bond issue will be picked up by absentee land- owners and mineral, oil & gas holders.

Sixth, what an opportunity for our kids.  We haven’t had a new facility in over 50 years.  What better time to do this than now and we’ll be able to attract more kids with better facilities.  Blue Origin comes to mind.

For my money, and I pay a fair amount of taxes, I say vote “YES” to the bond issue on May 7th.


Larry Simpson


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