ACC Bond and Tax Cap Election

Questions & Answers

General Information

What’s on the ballot in November?

The Austin Community College District Board of Trustees called an election for November 4, 2014. Voters will have three propositions to consider: two bond propositions and an incremental increase to the college’s maintenance and operations tax cap.

Bond Information

Why did the ACC Board of Trustees call a bond election?

The board voted to move forward with a November 2014 bond election to address the college’s most urgent needs. The package focuses on building the infrastructure to support the Central Texas workforce into the future.

  • Creating flexible facilities that will enhance student success and respond to changing workforce needs
  • Providing services in high-growth communities in the ACC taxing district
  • Renovating aging sites to ensure health and safety

What projects are included in the bond?

The board divided the bond package into two propositions: one centered on planning and construction for future growth, and a second proposition to fund existing campus growth, renovations, security, health and safety issues, and sustainability improvements.

PROPOSITION 1: Planning and Construction for Future Growth
• ACC Highland Campus, phase II—includes repurposing Highland Mall to serve as a regional workforce innovation center, regional health sciences center including STEM
simulator lab, digital and creative media center, culinary and hospitality center, and incubator space.
• New campus in Leander
• Acquisition of new property for regional workforce center in southeast Travis County
Proposition 1 total: $224.8 million
PROPOSITION 2: Existing Campus Growth, Renovation, Health, Safety, and Sustainability
• Renovating ACC’s almost 100-year-old historic Rio Grande Campus
• Constructing a regional first-responders training center at Hays Campus
• Constructing an Elgin Campus workforce training center to house veterinary technician and sustainable agricultural entrepreneurship training
• Renovating buildings districtwide for health, environmental sustainability, safety, and technology
• Expanding Round Rock Campus
Proposition 2 total: $161.17 million

What is the cost of the bond?

The propositions total approximately $386 million—which would amount to a tax rate increase of approximately two cents to be phased in over time.

How would a bond impact taxpayers?

The interest and principal on bonds are payable from property taxes collected from taxpayers of the ACC District – which includes the Austin, Leander, Manor, Del Valle, Round Rock, Elgin, and Hays school districts as well as the City of Austin.

The bond propositions total approximately $386 million—which would amount to a tax rate increase of approximately two cents to be phased in over time. For a home valued at $200,000, that would be an increase of $3.33 per month after the standard homestead exemption, or an additional $1.33 per month for seniors and homeowners with disabilities.

When is the last time ACC held a bond election?

ACC held its first (and only other) GO bond election in 2003. The $99 million bond passed with 57 percent of the vote.

Tax Cap Election

Why did the board call an election to raise the tax cap?

The college’s maintenance and operations tax currently is capped at 9 cents, and it cannot increase without voter approval. The increase would, among other things:

  • Stabilize tuition to maintain affordability
  • Expand regional workforce innovation center at ACC Highland
  • Maintain reduced tuition for Early College Start
  • Attract and retain quality faculty & staff

What is the proposed increase?

Tustees called for a public vote in November on incrementally increasing the college’s property tax cap over a six-year period: one cent in FY 2016, one cent in FY 2018, and one cent in FY 2020. For a home valued at $200,000, that would be an increase of $4.88 per month after the standard homestead exemption, or an additional $2 per month for seniors and homeowners with disabilities.

When was the last increase to the tax cap?

ACC has asked voters to increase the tax cap only once in its 41-year history. In 2003, voters approved raising the cap to its current level of 9 cents.

Election Information

When will the election be held?

The board called the election for November 4, 2014. That is a general election, ensuring a larger voter turnout to weigh in on the ballot measures.

Who has the opportunity to vote?

Voters who reside in ACC’s Taxing District are eligible to vote in an ACC election. The Taxing District includes the Austin, Leander, Manor, Del Valle, Round Rock, Elgin, and Hays school districts as well as the City of Austin.

What role does ACC play during a bond election?

State law bars the college from taking part in political activity but allows the dissemination of factual data. The law also prohibits college employees from using work time or college resources to advocate for or against any ballot measure.

What happens if voters don’t approve the issuance of bonds?

Current funding would not permit the college to undertake the kinds of projects proposed for bond funding. No new growth/expansion would be planned at this time.

Tax Impact

How would the passage of these propositions affect the college’s tax rate?

If all three measures are approved, the total tax impact is estimated to be five cents, phased in over time. The college’s total tax rate at that point would remain below the current state average for community colleges, about $0.16 (16 cents). 

What would it mean for a homeowner’s tax bill?

If the bond measures and tax cap increase are approved, the tax impact would be phased in over the next six years. For a home valued at $200,000, the final monthly tax impact after exemptions would be:

Standard homestead Seniors, homeowners with disabilities
Bond propositions $3.33 $1.33
M&O tax cap increase $4.88 $2

What is ACC’s current tax rate?

The college’s property tax rate is about 9½ cents per $100 of taxable value. That includes a maintenance and operations (M&O) rate that is capped at 9 cents and cannot increase without voter approval. The remainder of the rate is debt service.

ACC offers a standard $5,000 homestead exemption in addition to a $115,000 exemption for seniors (65+) and homeowners with disabilities.

How does ACC’s tax rate compare to that of other community colleges?

ACC’s current property tax rate is about 9½ cents per $100 of taxable value. The average tax rate for Texas community colleges is about 16 cents.

If all three measures are approved, the total tax impact is estimated to be five cents, phased in over time.

When would an increase occur?

A tax increase would occur when bonds are issued for a project. The first year of increase would be tax year 2015 (FY 2016).

Community Input

What was the role of the Bond Program Advisory Committee?

In spring 2013, the Bond Program Advisory Committee – a 25-member group composed of community representatives, education partners, ACC faculty and staff, and students – reviewed the planning work completed by the college over the past several years and developed 11 recommendations for the bond package, culled from a longer list of possible projects. The board streamlined those projects to develop the propositions that will be on the ballot in November.

To see the planning documents and reports reviewed by the committee, visit the committee’s meeting schedule, agendas, and documents webpage.

What is the role of ACC’s Campus Advisory Committees?

Community representatives serve on the college’s campus advisory committees, which provide input on the direction of individual campuses. Over the past several years, they have reviewed plans for their campus and made recommendations.