TEXARKANA, Texas — Texarkana College's Board of Trustees is seeking a property tax rate increase for the 2019-20 budget year.
A rate of $0.123081 per $100 of taxable property value is being proposed, which for an average $100,000 home in Bowie County would be $127.44 annually. The current tax rate is $0.118115 per $100 in taxable value.
Two public hearings will be held on the proposed rate. One will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday in the Patman Room of the Truman Arnold Student Center, 2500 N. Robison Road, Texarkana, Texas. The second will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 19 in the same location. Trustees will then vote on the tax rate during their regular meeting, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 26 in the Patman Room.
TC President Dr. Jason Smith said the increase would generate $300,000 for the general budget and that the amount is earmarked to help repay the $10 million in municipal bonds the college took from Farmers Bank in February for campus improvements. Those include renovation of the college's science, technology, engineering and math facilities, parking lot and paving improvements, heating and air systems and bringing the entire campus into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"The thing that really brought the capital projects to the forefront is the ADA audit," Smith said. "They gave us approximately two years to come into compliance. We had to have a plan in place and the plan was to take the maintenance tax note, get that approved."
He also said that the state is not funding community colleges as much as they used to and that while they did receive an additional $300,000 this year, it only allowed the college to continue regular operations.
Smith also said that during the years the college fought to keep the doors open, funds were not available to maintain the buildings and that it has to be done.
"There was a lot of streamlining of TC over the past eight years, but there were not funds to maintain the buildings," he said. "There had to be some point where we had to make an investment to get our facilities up to ADA compliance."
Once the three-year project is completed, the college will repay the bonds at a rate of $1 million per year.
The college last raised rates from $0.110718 to $0.118115 in August 2017, a move that generated $340,000 for the 2017-18 budget.
The board had also increased rates in 2016. In 2015, trustees proposed raising the tax and an anonymous donor gave the school $1 million on the condition the tax not be raised for at least one year.
In 2011, TC alum and billionaire Ross Perot announced that he would give the college $1 million per year for five years to keep the doors open. That funding ended in 2016.
Voters approved TC annexing Bowie County in 2012, as well, a move that many have said also helped save the college.
"The college ranks the 10th lowest in the state on the tax rate and is number one in the completion rate," Suzy Irwin, TC's director of institutional advancement and public relations, said. "We are doing all we can to keep that balance of both value and success at the best value for our taxpayers."