Brown County slammed the door — with an exclamation point — at the ballot box Tuesday on Ranger College’s effort to annex the county and levy a property tax.
Just over 97 percent of the 6,081 votes cast were “against” the annexation, with similar results in Erath and Comanche counties.
According to unofficial results in the Brown County Elections Office, the final count for Brown County was 97.22 percent “against” (5,912 votes) and 2.78 percent “for” (169 votes). A majority of Brown County voters also voted in favor of all seven constitutional amendments on the ballot.
Ranger College had said it would levy a property tax rate of 11 cents per $100 evaluation, which would enable the college to expand into Brownwood — while maintaining a presence at its current Heartland Mall campus — and offer new programs.
Opponents pushed back against the college, saying taxpayers could not afford a new “forever” tax and maintaining they were not convinced there would be any benefit to the county.
“The voters have spoken, and Ranger College accepts the voters’ wishes,” Ranger College president Dr. Bill Campion said in a written statement. “We appreciate our supporters; be assured our institution will continue to do everything possible to serve students throughout our service areas even though our severely limited resources preclude the many things we would like to do.
“We look forward to a cordial relationship with everyone throughout our service areas.”
Barry Carter, treasurer of the special purpose political action committee Brown County Citizens Against Ranger Tax Annexation, said via Facebook message, “The residents of Brown County have had their voices heard through our most fundamental right, which is the right to vote. I’m greatly relieved for the citizens of Brown County, and for all of our property and business owners, that we won’t be burdened with another taxing authority or a new property tax.
“I think it’s very important to recognize that the election results are in no way a reflection of Brown County citizen’s attitudes toward higher education, the students that attend Ranger College, or Ranger College personnel. The results were against excessive property taxation in our county.”
Ranger College and opponents to the annexation campaigned heavily for their respective positions, and social media lit up regularly — sometimes, with volatile and accusatory comments.
Unofficial final results in Erath County were 96.19 percent “against” (5,787 votes) and 3.81 percent “for” (229 votes).
In Comanche County, unofficial results were 98.15 percent “against” (2,979 votes) and 1.85 percent “for” (56 votes).