Brown County residents and business owners who are opposed to the annexation of Brown County into the Ranger College tax district attended a rally and volunteer organization Thursday evening at Riverside Park.
Representatives of Brown County Citizens Against Ranger Tax Annexation, a specific purpose political action committee formed in September, had yard signs, posters and flyers available, and Barry Carter, the group’s treasurer, presented the group’s mission statement and made other comments about its position.
Voters in Brown, Erath and Comanche counties will vote on the college’s proposed annexation Nov. 7. Early voting begins Oct. 23.
About three dozen citizens had gathered at the park’s pavilion as Carter and fellow political action committee representative Larry Hart began speaking, but the number grew throughout the event and Carter estimated later there were about 50 who attended.
The Riverside Park event was the group’s first public meeting. Donations to the political action committee have enabled the group to buy 300 yard signs and 15 four-by-four signs, and billboard messages will be going up, Carter said.
Carter and Hart will speak Oct. 13 at the Brown County Republican Women’s Club meeting 11:30 a.m. at the Adams Street Community Center, and will be interviewed Oct. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. on KOXE-Radio, Carter said.
Carter read at the Riverside Park rally from a prepared statement:
“Up to this point, Brown County Citizens Against Ranger Tax Annexation has maintained the official position that we are for Ranger Junior College, but we are 100 percent opposed to the annexation of Brown County into the Ranger College Tax District. However, as Ranger Junior College officials try to influence the outcome of this election by misrepresenting a recent resolution adopted by their board of regents, it is becoming more difficult to continue our public support of the college.”
Carter’s statement was in response to a resolution the Ranger College regents adopted Monday. Carter noted that the agenda for the regents’ meeting stated the board would “consider and encourage the 2018 board to set the tax rate at 11 cents per $100 valuation when new territory joins the district and “consider and encourage 2018 board to grant homestead
exemptions, over 65 exemptions, agricultural and timber exemptions when new territory joins the District.”
“It’s obvious that the purpose of the resolution adopted by the board of regents earlier this week was to give the impression that the proposed tax rate of 11 cents, as well as these newly proposed exemptions, had been officially approved by the 2017 board of regents on behalf of the 2018 board of regents,” Carter said.
“However, ‘consider and encourage’ is clearly not the same as consider and approve, and to imply that it is the same is misleading. … The 2017 board can do nothing for the 2018 board. They can adopt a resolution, but a resolution is not the same thing as a formal vote.”
Ranger College issued a press release Wednesday saying the regents “made official Monday night that the tax rate for any of the three Counties (Brown, Erath and Comanche) that choose to become part of the Ranger taxing district will be the previously stated 11 cents per $100 valuation.”
Carter said the annexation issue should be “discussed and ultimately
determined by the residents in Brown County who are in favor of annexation, and by those in Brown County who are opposed to annexation. Instead, those who are opposed to annexation are being forced to stand against Ranger Junior College, by having to defend against continual actions taken by Ranger Junior College officials.”
Hart, who with Carter made comments before taking questions from citizens, said the “forever tax” Ranger College would levy would be a hardship to citizens and industry. Hart asked if Ranger College graduates will “stay in our county and add economic value. No. They’re leaving,” Hart said.
Before Carter and Hart took questions from citizens, Carter concluded his formal remarks by saying “I love Brown County … we can respectfully disagree with our neighbors who may be in favor of this. That’s why we have votes and have elections. We can successfully oppose annexation by working together.”
Ranger College resolution
Ranger College emailed to the media a resolution of the “Ranger College Board of Regents proposed tax rate because of annexation election.”
The resolution states “the proposed maintenance and operations rate would be 11 cents per $100 valuation.”
Any future increase exceeding 2.99 percent would require a public hearing, and any increase exceeding 7.99 percent would be subject to a rollback election, the resolution states. It would take 20 years to reach the maximum tax rate allowed by law — 50 cents per $100 valuation, the resolution states.
Ranger College expends more than $2.1 million annually to operation and teach in Brown County, with an additional investment of $1 million to renovate the Heartland Mall location, the resolution states.
“Upon approval of voters in Brown, Comanche or Erath counties to be annexed into the Ranger College District, the current (maintenance and operation and debt service rate) of 43 cents per $100 valuation will be replaced by the singled maintenance and operations rate of 11 cents per $100 valuation … to be formally adopted by Sept. 1, 2018 for the tax levy based on 2018 appraised values, (minus) allowed exemptions, for payment due in 2019,” the resolution states.
The 11-cent tax rate will be levied on property tax valuations adjusted for state exemptions and disabled veterans including $25,000 homestead, $10,000 over 65 or $10,000 disability, and a property tax freeze for seniors age 65 and above, the resolution states.