AUSTIN (KXAN) — After working on a bond for the last four years, the Austin Community College District Board of Trustees voted to move forward with a November 2014 bond election.
Voters will see three propositions on the November ballot. Proposition 1 focuses on planning and construction for future growth. Proposition 2 would fund existing campus growth, renovation, health and safety issues. Proposition 3 is a Maintenance and Operations Tax Cap Election.
Proposition 1 and 2 total $386 million. This would amount to a two-cent increase in the property tax rate to be phased in over time.
If the first two bond propositions pass, a home valued at $200,000 would be looking at an increase of about $40 per year after the standard homestead exemption, or an additional $16 per year for seniors and homeowners with disabilities.
If the M&O Tax Cap measure passes, a home valued at $200,000 would be looking at about $58 a year, or $24 for seniors and homeowners with disabilities.
Residents in Leander are hoping voters will say yes to the propositions, because a new campus is part of Proposition 1.
ACC purchased the property in Leander in 2010. It sits in the heart of Leander’s transit-oriented development, or TOD.
“It means more opportunity for our students that does not exist today,” said Leander Chamber president and CEO Bridget Brandt. “It means opportunity for all of our businesses, for development, it’s incredible.”
Brandt says a new campus would be a game changer.
“I think that the town of Leander is on the verge of incredible success, and I think that the tipping point is this ACC campus,” she added.
ACC officials say a new Leander campus would help ease overcrowding at the Cypress Creek campus in Cedar Park, as well as the Northridge Campus in North Austin.
Community College Tax Rates. (Click to Enlarge)
“This bond with help with workforce needs of entire Central Texas area,” said Victor Villarreal, the vice chair of the ACC Board of Trustees.
However, not everyone thinks taxpayers should foot the bill.
“The problem is, homeowners are tapped out. They’re suffering from tax fatigue,” said Roger Falk, an analyst for the Travis County Taxpayers Union. “All these tax hikes and borrowing, much of it for wants, has created an environment of taxation running people out of their homes.”
While Roger does not want to stifle education, he’s not on board to pay for it.
Voters will need to make that decision come November.
In regard to the opposition we would like to share a few facts with the community so you can make an informed decision.
1. The tax rate in Leander was actually decreased last year. While many citizens see an increase in the actual bill, it is due to the tremendous increase in property value we are seeing in this area.
2. ACC's current tax rate is 6.5 cents lower than the average statewide community college district tax rate.
3. ACC is the primary gateway to higher education and the current campuses are crowded.
4. ACC is the primary trainer of local healthcare professionals and first responders.
5. ACC is helping to build a stronger middle class, Texans with an associate degree can earn nearly 5 times as much over 5 years in an occupation that requires a degree.
Please study, learn the facts and how this will impact you before you head to the polls.