Q. What is a bond election?
A. Community colleges must ask voters for permission to sell bonds to raise money for capital projects including new construction, renovation or other campus improvements. The college will pay back the bond over time.
Q. What is the proposed bond for? How much will it cost?
A. Protecting our Students and Staff – $1.5 million
Our facilities will be equipped with secure card access. In addition, safety lighting, closed-circuit cameras and emergency phones will also be installed throughout the campus. The security upgrades will facilitate the implementation of the new campus carry laws.
Infrastructure Overhaul – $12 million
Upgrades for campus HVAC, plumbing, electrical, food service equipment, replacement of aging walkways and more.
Career-focused Technical & Academic Building – $35 million
The proposal is for an 80,000 square-foot facility that would include space for current technical programs including Process Technology, Welding, Computer Information Systems, Truck Driving and potential new programs such as cyber-security, geographic information systems (GIS), logistics/supply chain management and more. Space for academic courses will also be included.
Q. How much will this raise my taxes?
A. If approved by voters, the bond would raise the ACC tax rate by approximately 3 cents per $100 of property value based on current projections. For a home valued at $150,000, taxes would be raised by $45 a year. The impact of the bond for those 65 and older or disabled would be $22 a year due to the $75,000 tax exemption on their property values.
Q. How will this benefit the local taxpayers and economy?
A. The college through students and staff adds roughly $1.6 billion in added income to the region annually. The college itself also creates an additional $26.1 million in income due to the spending on its day-to-day operations. For every dollar students invest in their education at ACC, they earn an additional $4.40 in future wages on a yearly basis. Annually, that means an ACC graduate will see a $10,700 increase in earnings compared to someone who only has a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. (Data according to an economic impact study by EMSI, Intl.)
Q. What is the tax rate history of ACC?
A. Our current tax rate is 18 cents per $100 of appraised value. We also offer a $65,000 homestead exemption. Over the past 15 years the college has reduced its tax rate by 28 percent. Our tax rate is also a fraction of that of other local taxing entities.
Q. Can you fund these projects without raising the tax rate??
A. The only other methods that a government entity can issue other than voter-approved bonds are general obligation bonds. Such bonds can only be issued so long as the tax rate is not affected. It is important to note that ACC Board of Regents have lowered the Maintenance and Operation tax rate by more than 9 cents over the past 15 years and 2 cents over the last two years.
Q. Where did the recommendations come from?
A. The proposed projects were developed by a committee comprised entirely of ACC taxpayers. They met several times in the spring and summer and reviewed feedback from the previous bond issue. The committee helped narrow the scope of the bond proposal and their findings were presented to the Board of Regents.
Q. How will this benefit students?
A. Protecting our Students and Staff – These upgrades will provide our students with a more secure environment in which to learn.
Infrastructure Overhaul – Upgrading campus infrastructure will reduce incidents such as gas leaks, plumbing failures, equipment malfunctions, staff injuries and facility damage which can interrupt classes.
Career-focused Technical & Academic Building – Students will benefit from facilities that are built for current and future technology. It will provide them with tools and resources comparable to what they will use and experience in the workforce.
Q. Why these facilities? Why now?
A. Many of the college’s facilities are over six decades old and have exceeded their lifespan. These buildings were not constructed to support today’s technology and are more expensive to maintain than replace.
Q. What challenges are facing the college currently?
A. Over the past year, several issues have occurred that have interrupted the learning environment including: a gas leak that shut down a building for a week, water line failures, drinking water contamination and HVAC system breakdowns that affected the cooling systems of many campus buildings. In addition, the 55-year-old G Building currently housing many academic courses is not properly equipped for Wi-Fi and cellular reception, limiting classroom instruction capabilities.
Q. How long will it take to construct the new technical/academic facility?
A. Once construction begins, it will take approximately 18-24 months to complete.
Q. When is the election?
A. The election will be held on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Early voting will run from October 23 – November 3. The last day to register to vote is October 10. Applications for mail-in ballots must be received by October 27.
Q. What is the difference between this and the bond referendum of 2016?
A. The previous bond included a new campus on the west side of our taxing district along with more extensive renovations at the Alvin campus including the upgrade and addition of student spaces.
The security upgrades, infrastructure renovations and the technical building were also included in the previous bond.