Board unanimously approves tax hike
Trustees approve a $200 garage-only parking permit effective Jan. 1.
Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 17:07
The Alamo Colleges board of trustees with no discussion unanimously approved a tax increase, new fee for garage parking and tuition hike for students with 75 semester hours at the regular July meeting Tuesday in Killen Center.
In an interview after the meeting, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said trustees had discussed many of the items at the July 17 committee meetings and had discussed the budget during the board retreats since November. Board budget retreats took place Nov. 11-12, March 1, May 5 and July 11.
“Because we have the committee process, they really vet everything,” Leslie said. “There’s sometimes value to bring back an item particularly if it’s one of those issues where there still may be some desire by trustees to continue to vet it.”
Trustees unanimously approved a $293 million total operating expense budget for fiscal year 2012-13 based on the approval to raise the current maintenance and operations tax rate of $0.096873 to $0.105359 per $100 of assessed valuation for fiscal year 2012-13.
The total budget for fiscal year 2012-13, which will include operating tax revenue updates, fund balance transfer updates and restricted and plant fund budgets, will go before the board for approval Aug. 21.
Diane Snyder, vice chancellor for finance and administration, told trustees at the July 11 board budget retreat that a tax increase is required to establish recurring revenues to counter state funding declines that are expected to drop from 22 percent to about 12 percent over the next 10 years.
The $0.105359 tax rate represents an increase that is 75 percent of the difference between the current effective tax rate of $0.099396 and the estimated rollback rate of $0.107347. The rollback rate is the rate at which taxpayers can petition for an election to lower property taxes.
According to the minute order, the tax increase will result in operating tax revenues of $103.6 million. The amount of taxes to fund maintenance and operations is $7.8 million greater than the amount of taxes under the current tax rate.
The increase would mean an annual increase of $12.22 on the county’s average home value of $144,000.
Snyder said Tuesday the increase allows the district to lower a projected 5 percent tuition increase for fiscal year 2014 to a 3 percent tuition increase.
Initially, a 5 percent tuition increase was projected for fiscal year 2014 to fiscal year 2017, followed by a 3 percent tuition increase for fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2022.
“As we get closer next year and look at the numbers, maybe we can further improve that, but at least it gave us the benefit we were at least hoping to get out of that on an immediate short- term basis,” Snyder said.
In other news, trustees unanimously approved a $200 garage-only parking permit designed to guarantee a parking spot in garages at district colleges. The garage-only permits will be sold Jan. 1.
At the July 17 committee meetings, Snyder said the number of permits sold would equal the number of available spaces in parking garages. Permits to park in parking lots will remain at $50.
The new type of parking permit was proposed to help fund the $15 million parking garage as part of a public/private partnership between this college and the Tobin Hill Neighborhood Association.
According to the minute order, the increase in parking permits will provide revenue of $320,625 annually.
The parking garage will have 961 parking spaces, of which 369 spaces will be available for students during the day and commercial use at night. The other 592 will be reserved for residents and commercial use.
By August 2013, a total of 2,750 garage parking spaces will be available throughout the district’s three garages -- one at Northwest Vista and two at this college.
This college’s existing garage has 900 parking spaces, and about 30 are reserved for administrators and directors, Tim Rockey, dean of continuing education training network, said.
Administrators and directors who have reserved spots in the garage will have to pay for the $200 permit.
In addition, trustees unanimously approved a conversion of the quasi-endowment account of about $11 million into a capital project account to internally finance approved capital projects, such as future construction needs.
Student scholarships previously funded through the quasi-endowment also will be funded from excess parking permit revenues to create a stable source of institutionally funded scholarships.
According to the minute order, because of the loss in market value of the quasi-endowment account between Aug. 31, 2008, and March 31, 2009, student scholarships could not be funded.
In related business, trustees unanimously approved transactions for the $30 million price tag on apartments as part of the public/private partnership development between this college and the Tobin Hill Neighborhood Association.
Tobin Hill Lofts will be a four-story, 225-unit, 552-bed, residential development at North Main Avenue and East Laurel Street.
At the June 12 committee meetings, Jim Plummer, a partner in Fulbright and Jaworski LLP, said groundbreaking for the Tobin Hill Lofts has to be before Aug. 31 because the mezzanine financing for apartments, $6.7 million from Virtus Real Estate Capital, has to be spent starting in August.
In addition, Broadway Bank is lending $20.5 million for construction.
At the July 17 committee meetings, Plummer said residents will be required to buy a parking permit from the district to park in the garage.