Former Bastrop Mayor Tom Scott offers us a new take on why he's for the ACC Annexation. And Bob Parmalee of the Bastrop County Taxpayer's Association, sent us his recent pitch on on why he is against the ACC annexation. It's up to you — Bastrop voters (minus Smithville)!
Onward to the Lost Pines University Center, Bob Parmelee, October 19, 2010
I’m Bob Parmelee, Chairman of the Bastrop County Taxpayers Association.
In my March 3rd article on the subject of the ACC in the Bastrop Advertiser, I wrote, “In reality there are many options, not just one. In order for the voters to make an informed decision they might consider some of the other possibilities for junior college education in Bastrop.”
So while we picked apart the many shortcomings of the ACC, we began casting about for alternatives and studied Blinn College to our east and the Taylor Center just 15 miles to the north, operating in a converted HEB.
We found the best model, in Fredericksburg – the Hill Country University Center. The HCUC, as it is called, cost 4.3 million dollars to build. It has a 1500 student capacity, twice what we need initially, and offers degree programs from Texas Tech University, Schreiner University, Texas State Technical College, and Concordia University. Degrees range from the Associates Degree to the PhD. ACC is there also, with entry level courses.
HCUC is in the ACC Service Area, but it was built with private donations, not with taxpayer funds. The campus is run by a community foundation, not by the ACC. There is NO Perpetual ACC TAXATION. When the ACC proposed a tax election they were shown the door. “You can participate,” they were told, “but on OUR TERMS.” ACC chose to participate.
The ACC plan for Bastrop County is irresponsible: Two sprawling campuses of 188 total acres, 16 miles apart at a staggering taxpayer cost of 74 million dollars. Construction cost ALONE would be 59 million. Or, we could put a beautiful clone of the HCUC, one campus, midway among Elgin, Bastrop and Smithville for 4.3 million paid for with PRIVATE donations. WHICH MAKES MORE SENSE to you?
The ACC also wants to stick Bastrop County with a perpetual annual tax of about 2.2 million dollars, NET of tuition discounts, in the middle of a recession, and when the Federal Government is threatening the biggest tax increase in history.
It’s really simple. We can save taxpayers 54 million dollars in construction costs alone by replacing the current ACC Tax Annexation Plan with an “HCUC plan”.
But the first step must be to defeat the ACC Tax Annexation!
A word to ACC supporters: Now that you know of a much better alternative, I ask you to reverse your position and work to defeat the ACC Tax Annexation. Please, for the sake of your community, do the right thing and support a vote of NO.
If the ACC Tax Annexation is defeated in Bastrop County, I will make the first thousand-dollar donation to the “Lost Pines University Center.”
ACC + BASTROP AREA = SUCCESS, by Tom Scott
ACC in Bastrop would enable more of our high school graduates and even those who have not finished high school to gain a post-secondary education, giving them the skills to earn a better living and contribute to the local economy. Over 80% of our high school graduates say they want to go to college; but only half of them actually attend a Texas college after high school graduation. Current tuition prices and the long drives to Austin or San Marcos deter many from even trying! With ACC here, those who are already in the workforce will be able to re-enter the educational pipeline after previously "stopping out," to brush up their skills, or to retrain for new occupations.=
ACC will provide high quality academic courses leading to an associate’s degree that are fully transferable to Texas universities and will also provide workforce-training programs. Once we join the ACC district, our residents will enjoy much reduced tuition rates, one-third the amounts we must now pay and will have access to a full-fledged local campus in Bastrop, as well as any other ACC campus.
No alternative to ACC (including the most recent offering of those who still think you can get something for nothing) has been identified that combines the features: a) of a local campus that can offer both a full array of general academic coursesleading to a degree, as well asworkforce training courses in high-demand occupations; b) of low in-district tuition charges such as ACC's; and, c) certainly no option exists that combines these two aspects to provide for greater affordability and access to college, immediately.
Alternatives suggested by some, such as using local public school facilities, in lieu of building a new college campus, are not feasible. Public schools are only available in the evenings and are inadequate for a comprehensive college program, especially workforce training programs and “access” programs. ACC has proposed a second campus in Elgin that will offer complementary workforce programs to provide more options for those who opt into the ACC district, a bonus for Bastrop County because our ACC tax rates are not going to be any more or less because of the additional campus. Remember that only those who reside in the ACC taxing district are eligible for the “in-district’ tuition ratethat is one-third what Bastrop county residents now have to pay. The “in-district” rate would mean an annual savings of $3,240 for all ACC students who reside in the Bastrop school district area.
Voters in the ACC district control the maximum tax rate. You will have a vote on that subject, should it ever come up in the future; you will also be able to help decide who joins the board that oversees the college. Our tax money will stay right here in Bastrop, to pay for our own campus and its operations; in fact our tax money will attract an equal amount of funds from the state and the students’ tuition and fees to pay for our local campus. The taxpayers' only cost will be the $.00095 levy on taxable property value that all district members pay. Seniors and disabled citizens will receive a $120,000 homestead exemption to reduce the taxable value of their home