Board Deliberates Bond Election, Focuses on Paring Down Project List

The Austin Community College District Board of Trustees continued its deliberation of a potential November 2014 bond election during its June 2 meeting. The board’s discussion focused on paring down the projects recommended by a citizen advisory committee to only the college’s most immediate needs.

“ACC recognizes the effect a bond will have on taxpayers, particularly at a time when property values are rising and multiple entities are likely to have bond proposals on the ballot,” says Jeffrey Richard, chair of the Board of Trustees. “We are committed to a proposal that takes the impact on taxpayers into account while addressing our most urgent needs—long overdue renovations that ensure safety and create flexible facilities that will train an advanced workforce.”

The board began planning and discussions of a possible bond election several years ago and formed the citizen advisory committee in 2013. The committee presented a list of $499 million in projects it considered urgent after months of study. Those projects are focused on renovating outdated sites, providing services in high-growth communities, and creating facilities that will enhance student success and benefit the workforce.

“This has been a thorough, thoughtful process, and we know we have many important needs,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “Our board is taking very seriously its responsibilities to put forth a streamlined proposal and to explore ways to let voters determine which projects must be addressed now.”

The college’s first and only bond election was 11 years ago, when voters approved the sale of $99 million in bonds. Projects included the construction of South Austin Campus, expansion of the Eastview Campus health sciences building, construction of the Rio Grande Campus parking garage, expansion of Cypress Creek Campus, and more. Voters also authorized raising the tax cap to $0.09 (9 cents)—the only time ACC’s tax cap has increased in the college’s 40-year history. The college’s tax rate remains significantly below the state average for community colleges, 16 cents.

“ACC has done a lot without going to the voters,” says Chair Richard. “Through tuition increases, tax base growth, and judicious budgeting, we’ve made significant progress—building new campuses, expanding services, and creating new programs that respond to the needs of Central Texas employers. But we must do more in order to continue to support regional economic development.”

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