Speaking to the Brown County Republican Women’s Club Friday, Barry Carter stressed that he and his co-speaker, Larry Hart — representatives of the Brown County Citizens Against Ranger Tax Annexation — aren’t against education.
    But they are against Ranger College’s proposed annexation of Brown County into the college district and new property tax the college would levy — 11 cents per $100 valuation, the college has said.
    Ranger College has said being annexed into the college district is an investment in education and a better trained workforce. It would be beneficial in several ways including reduced tuition and the presence of Brown County on the board of regents, the college has said.
    Voters in Brown, Comanche and Erath counties will go to the polls Nov. 7 to approve or disapprove the annexation of their respective counties into the Ranger College district. Early voting begins Oct. 23.
    Carter and Hart spoke to the club at the Adams Street Community Center, where they said Ranger College proposes to levy a “forever tax” that taxpayers cannot afford.
    “This is a very important election we’re fixing to go to,” said Hart, who is retired. “This is a very rare chance that we actually get to vote a tax increase down. This tax increased that’s being proposed is going to have a trickle down effect on all of us.
    “Our small businesses and factories will endure this tax increase. It’ll be trickle down to each and every one of us.”
    Carter, who works as the controller at Superior Essex, held a stack of letters he said are from people who are encouraging Hart and himself to keep speaking out against the annexation. Carter said he and Hart are “stepping out of our comfort zones to to try to be a voice for individuals, like us, who are extremely concerned about their taxes.
    “That’s just what it boils down to. For a tremendous number of people, it’s just the amount of tax that we’re looking at taking on, compared to the perceived benefits.”
    Carter said he’s talked with company executives about being prepared for the potential tax. “It’s a little odd,” Carter said. “The ballot’s going to state (the tax rate) is about 43 cents, but we’re being told it’s 11 cents. I had to explain that about three or four times. It was difficult for me to try to explain that away.
    “There was a little bit of sticker shock for folks when they heard about that rate — both of them.”
    Ranger College has said the ballot is required by state law to reflect the current rate that taxpayers in the college district in Ranger pay, which is about 43 cents and reflects a debt service. The college has said taxpayers in all of the counties in the college district will pay the same rate — 11 cents — if voters approve the annexations.
    Carter said he’ll accept Ranger College’s statement that the tax will be 11 cents if voters approve the annexation. He noted Ranger College recently took a $10 million debt and says it will build a welcome center and cafetorium. “Now I think that’s great for Ranger College, but I don’t want to pay for that, but that’s exactly what will happen,” Carter said.
    “We will be responsible for paying that debt. There’s just no way around it.”
    Being opposed to the tax does not equate being opposed to education, Carter said.
    “What we’re hearing every day when we’re out talking to people — their primary concern is certainly not against education,” Carter said. “I didn’t see one letter in here that said ‘thank you for opposing education.’”
    Carter said he has friends who work for Ranger College, and said he recently realized that a college official was a student of Carter’s wife when the official was in the sixth grade.
    “This is an election where individuals within our county stood up and signed a petition and said ‘we’re for this,’” Carter said. “And then there are others that rose up within ur community and said ‘no, we’re opposed to it. We can still be neighbors and still be neighborly after this is over.
    “There’s no reason to think that we have to burn down our community in this election time. We just want to have our voices heard. If you’re opposed, you’re standing beside us. Let your voice be heard. If you’re for, you’re still my neighbor. That’s why we have elections. Let your voice be heard as well, and that’s all we can ask of each tore.”