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story.lead_photo.caption Texarkana College trustees move into closed session to discuss the tax increase for the college at the Patman Room on Monday, August 26, 2019, in Texarkana, Texas. Trustees adopted the tax rate of $0.12308 for the 2019-20 budget year over the current rate that is $0.118115 per $100 of assessed propert value. Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas — The Texarkana College Board of Trustees on Monday voted unanimously to increase the school's property tax rate enough to generate an additional $300,000 per year.

The rate will change from $0.118115 to $0.123081, a half-cent increase, per $100 in taxable value. TC officials plan to use the new revenue to repay $10 million in municipal bonds taken from Farmers Bank in February to address deferred maintenance and repair issues campus-wide, including bringing buildings into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"No one likes taxes, including me; however, increased reliance on support from local taxpayers is the state's expectation for publicly-funded community colleges," TC President Jason Smith said in a statement.

For 30 years, state funding for Texas community colleges has declined, increasing the burden on local taxpayers, Smith said. TC has raised its tuition to help offset the decrease in state funding, but the school does not want tuition to exceed the state average so TC can remain affordable, he said.

Tax rates were last raised in August 2017 from $0.110718 to $0.118115, which generated about $340,000 for the college's annual budget. Rates were also increased in 2016. Trustees planned on raising taxes in 2015, but an anonymous donor gave the college $1 million to not raise rates for at least one year. In 2011, billionaire Ross Perot, a TC alum, gave the school $1 million per year for five years and that funding ended in 2016. Voters also approved the college's annexation of Bowie County in 2012.

The Board also approved providing office and parking space for a Texas Veterans Commission counselor who will be available to to help veterans and their families with benefits claims. The office is expected to open this fall.

A memorandum of understanding between TC and TVC details "shared goals to promote quality, ease of access, and coordination of care to local veterans by providing on-site claims representation and counseling services," Smith said.

Robbin Bass, a staffer at U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe's TC district office, spoke in support of the move, saying it would make helping the veterans who come to her for assistance much more convenient.

"There is no better service than to serve a veteran," she said.

The Board approved a Fiscal Year 2020 budget based on enrollment projections and estimated tax revenue. TC Chief Financial Officer Kim Jones called it a "break-even, bare-bones budget." Other than tuition rates and some minor adjustments related to TC's employee compensation plan, no significant changes from last year's budget were made, Jones said.

 

Gazette reporter Jennifer Middleton contributed to this story.

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