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 increase to the college’s maintenance and operations tax cap.
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.
- 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
- Renovation of ACC’s almost 100-year-old historic Rio Grande Campus
- Construction of a regional ﬁrst-responders training center at Hays Campus
- Construction of an Elgin Campus workforce training center to house veterinary technician and sustainable agricultural entrepreneurship training
- Renovation of buildings districtwide for health, environmental sustainability, safety, and technology
- Expansion of Round Rock Campus to increase health sciences program capacity
Proposition 2 total: $161.17 million
What is the cost of the bond?
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. It is anticipated that debt service on the bonds would amount to a tax rate increase of approximately 2 cents when all bonds are eventually issued. The precise tax rate would depend on property values at the time and on the interest rates at which the bonds would be sold.
Using the 2-cent estimate, for a home valued at $200,000, there would be an increase of $3.25 per month after the standard homestead exemption. It would be an additional $1.17 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. An increase in M&O tax revenues would fund necessary maintenance and new programs, among other uses:
M&O Tax Proposed Uses
- Maintenance and operations of facilities and programs
- Deferred and preventative maintenance of existing buildings
- Stabilize in-district tuition to keep college affordable
- Expand veterans programs, services, and tuition waivers
- Maintain high school dual credit (Early College Start) tuition waivers
- Establish workforce dual credit academies in health sciences, IT, and construction
- Develop the Career Expressway program, a community-based partnership focused on reconnecting with former college students, getting them to completion, and into well-paying jobs
- Establish the college’s first R.N. to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program
- Attract and retain quality staff & faculty, with a ratio of 60 percent full-time faculty and 40 percent adjunct faculty
What is the proposed increase?
When was the last increase to the tax cap?
ACC has asked voters to increase the tax cap one other time in its 41-year history. In 2003, voters approved raising the cap to its current level of 9 cents.
When will the election be held?
The board called the bond and tax cap special elections for November 4, 2014. That coincides with the general election date, ensuring a larger voter turnout to weigh in on the college’s 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.
How would the passage of these propositions affect the college’s tax rate?
The college’s current M&O tax rate is 9 cents per $100 valuation. The college also has a debt service rate that is about half a cent.
If the bond measures are approved, the debt service rate would change when ACC sells the bonds and sets the tax rate to pay debt service on those bonds. It is anticipated that debt service on the bonds would amount to a tax rate increase of approximately 2 cents when all bonds are eventually issued. The precise tax rate would depend on property values at the time and on the interest rates at which the bonds would be sold.
The M&O rate could change when the Board of Trustees sets the tax rate annually in the fall. The tax cap is the maximum amount to which trustees can set the tax rate. The M&O tax cap increase of 3 cents would occur in increments every other year, starting in FY2016 (1-cent increase in FY2016, 1-cent increase in FY2018, and 1-cent increase in FY2020).
What would it mean for a homeowner’s tax bill?
For a home valued at $200,000, the ﬁnal estimated monthly tax impact after exemptions would be:
|Standard homestead*||Seniors, homeowners with disabilities**|
|M&O tax cap increase (max)||$4.88||$1.75|
*ACC taxpayers receive a standard $5,000 homestead exemption.
**Seniors and residents with disabilities receive an additional $125,000 exemption.
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 $125,000 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 current 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—for a maximum total of about 14 cents.
When would an increase occur?
A tax increase related to the bond propositions would occur when bonds are issued for a project. The first year of increase would be FY2016. The M&O tax cap proposal calls for a phased-in increase of 3 cents: 1 cent in FY2016, 1 cent in FY2018, and 1 cent in FY2020.
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, prioritized 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.