By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 21, 2017) — Ranger College is exploring an $0.11 tax referendum it hopes to see on the November ballot in Erath County.
If such a referendum makes the ballot and is approved, it would come with a cost reduction for students from the affected taxing district, according to Stephenville ISD superintendent Matt Underwood during his superintendent’s report at the regular meeting of SISD trustees Monday.
Ranger College President Dr. Bill Champion did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday morning.
Ranger College has a growing campus on Lingleville Road in northwest Stephenville. While it is common for community colleges to use property taxes as one means of funding, Ranger College has never done so in Erath County.
“They are not a registered taxing entity with Erath County at this time,” said county tax assessor/collector Jennifer Carey.
But that could change. Underwood shared the college’s referendum schedule in his report so trustees would be aware of the Ranger College referendum before setting a date for any facilities bond election the school district may call.
According to the schedule, Ranger College hopes to draft and finalize service plans by the end of March, announce local steering committees on April 3, hold a signature petition drive throughout April and May, publish service plans between May 15-26, hold public hearings June 26-29, submit petitions for verification by July 7 and call the election by August 7.
November 7 is the fall election date.
If approved, a tax rate of $0.11 for every $100 in property valuation would be the equivalent of $110 for every $100,000 in property.
Nearby, Weatherford College has a 2016-17 property tax rate of $0.12019 per $100 in property valuation, or $120.19 for every $100,000.
SISD trustees reacted apprehensively to the news, as they were exploring the possibility of placing a facilities bond on the November ballot, as well. Bond elections have struggled in Erath County recently, with a Dubllin facilities bond failing twice and a Huckabay bond also failing.
SISD trustees are in a waiting game while seeing if the Ranger College plan moves forward, and acknowledged they may be better moving any bond election they may pursue to the May, 2018 ballot, even though voter turnout, they said during discussion, is generally lower in May.