Millsap ISD board of trustees proposed a 2-cent decrease in the interest and sinking tax rate during the meeting on Monday evening.

The proposed total tax rate is $1.4706 per $100 valuation, which includes an INS rate of $0.4022 and maintenance and operations rate of $1.0684. Last year, MISD adopted a tax rate of $1.5922.

The board also set a date for a public hearing on the tax rate and 2019-20 budget before adoption on Aug. 26.

Superintendent Deann Lee said this is the third year in a row that MISD has been able to decrease the INS tax rate.

The board discussed how much to decrease the rate and how that would affect paying off bonds and future facility needs.

“If a bond election is in the district’s future, you may want to consider not lowering your tax rate all the way just to raise it back up because I’ve been in the industry for quite some time and I feel like taxpayers don’t remember when you lower it only when you raise it,” Hilltop Securities Managing Director Nick Bulaich said.

Board Secretary Jerry Walker mentioned facility needs like such as at the agricultural barn, needs for gymnasium space and band practice space that is unaffected by the weather.

“I’d vote for a $5 million bond to take care of all of those next year,” Walker said. “I just need to get more of my neighbors on board.”

Earlier in the meeting, trustees discussed paying all or part of the $735,000 callable bond debt, which can be paid off early in February without penalties, MISD Chief Financial Officer Kim Alexander said. The board would vote on this in November.

The last bond election was in 2007, Bulaich said.

Also during the meeting, trustees approved adding covers to the batting cages at the high school for a cost not to exceed $100,000 from the current year’s budget. The company charged with adding the cover to the cages is 3L Design in Weatherford. The project is expected to be completed by September or early October.

“If you recall one of the things that Coach [Jake] Johnson came to us about a few months back is again our athletic facilities just don’t come anywhere close to matching those around us,” Lee said. “We don’t even have coverings on our batting cages. Poolville has cover over theirs. Of course, Peaster, Brock have almost a facility built around theirs, and ours aren’t even covered. So, anytime there’s inclement weather it can’t be used by MISD athletes or [Millsap Youth Association] or anyone else.”

Walker said he is in favor of the project but said the batting cages could also be housed in a multipurpose facility.

“I hope the multipurpose facility is in the near term,” Walker said. “I have a fear that it’s not.”

Trustees discussed paying off the maintenance note, which is paid through the MNO budget, but decided not to take action.

“The district entered into a maintenance tax note in 2009, a fairly high interest rate at 5.49 percent,” Bulaich said.

The board had discussed paying off the note earlier in the year to have enough money for a salary increase, Alexander said. MISD can wait to pay off the note now because of the passing of the state’s new school finance reform law House Bill 3, which increases salaries. The district is expected to save about $25,000 in interest if the note is paid off in the fall of 2020.

“Might as well wait another year, make a little money,” Walker said.

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