Austin Community College Board Voices Opposition of New Proposed Tax Rate Changes

Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen proposed legislation that would alter property tax growth by prohibiting local governments to grow their revenue without seeking approval from voters.

If approved, the proposed changes would require a public vote be made if any local taxing entity, such as a city, county, school district or community college district, experienced over 2.5 percent in revenue growth year-over-year, also known as a “rollback rate”, according to Community Impact Newspaper.

Several local entities have expressed their disapproval of the proposed changes since the proposal was introduced, citing that the changes would prevent them from effectively providing services to the public. For instance, the Austin Community College (ACC) Board of Trustees recently added the district to a list of institutions that oppose proposed changes, unanimously voting to be against any legislation that affects its “ability and authority to sufficiently fund its programs and serve its students.”

ACC Board of Trustees approved its annual budget in September, which increased the district’s tax rate to cover the costs of remaining debt issued after ACC district voters passed a taxpayer-funded bond in 2014, which increased the college’s tax bill for the median homeowner from $318.81 to $352.51.

If the board of trustees had passed that budget under guidelines in the proposed legislation, it would have caused for a rollback election.

If the proposed legislation gets approved, ACC staff would have to discuss how to proceed with its current budget. However, if the total revenue gap fell on tuition payments, tuition for ACC students would significantly increase, said Neil Vickers, ACC executive vice president of finance and administration.

“[The proposal] saves the average taxpayer in Austin about $15 a year, but it would impact our average student about $12 per hour to offset the savings to the taxpayer,” Vickers said.

ACC students who reside within the community college taxing district pay $67 for each credit hour.

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