Since the Ranger College annexation is not being proposed by the City of Brownwood, I have chosen not to speak much about it publicly. However, as the election grows closer, I continue to get questions about my position. I think it is fair for people to ask me to take a stance. Thus, I write today to publicly say that I am opposed to the Ranger College annexation.
Yes, I supported HB3332, because I thought it was wrong for the state legislature to give preemption or protection to a state run entity. Additionally, I believe in the right to vote, and I honestly could not see the harm of letting the people decide this issue for themselves, especially when the right to vote already existed in Comanche and Erath counties.
However, supporting the right to vote is where my support must end.Over the past several years, I asked Ranger College two primary questions.
First, I asked how our tax dollars will be spent. If the dollars will go to bricks and mortar, I want to know where the facility will be located, how many students it will accommodate, the number of professors and administrators, etc. In my opinion, these details are necessary for any type of cost-benefit analysis.
Second, I asked for assurances that tax dollars collected in Brown County will not be spent outside of our community. So far, these questions have not been answered in a way that I believe justifies the imposition of a new tax.
While Ranger College has laid out some conceptual plans for campuses, the proposal lacks the type of detail necessary for me to evaluate economic impact. Similarly, I am not convinced that our tax dollars will stay local. The tax rate in the existing district is currently .43 per $100 dollars of appraised value. If all three counties passed the referendum, the tax rate would drop in the existing district to .11 per $100 of appraised value.
I recognize that some reduction would be anticipated since the existing district is currently supporting operations in our community. Nonetheless, the substantial reduction causes me concern about whether our tax dollars will remain local.In writing this letter, it is not my desire to harm Ranger College or burn bridges for our community.
The truth is that Ranger College or any institution that offers higher learning can be an asset for Brownwood. A larger community college presence could create a substantial number of jobs and provide better opportunities for many of our residents.
In the end, however, I am not convinced that the benefit to the community will be outweighed by the impact of an additional tax, especially with the likelihood for such a tax to increase over time.