The citizens of Erath County have a momentous choice to make about their family’s financial future on November 7; a decision that not only affects their finances but their children’s and grandchildren’s. Do we annex Ranger Junior College and allow them to assess a new tax on our property? This would be a forever tax. We cannot repeal it, ever.
I think this decision comes down to trust. Can we trust Ranger Junior College?
Let’s examine the trust issue. Did the citizens of this county go to the regents of Ranger and ask for annexation? No, Ranger sent petition signature gatherers into our community. The people I have visited with feel they were tricked into signing the petition with half-truths. For the most part, a tax doesn’t appear to have been mentioned by the petition gatherers, just promises of lower tuition and the continued operation of Ranger College in Stephenville.
This is not the first time Ranger has been a little less than truthful. Ranger voters faced a $10,000,000 bond issue last fall. Voters were told it was for new dorms. Turns out that wasn’t the truth. Why would a community as economically distressed as Ranger pass a $10,000,000 bond? Well, it seems that Ranger College gave them a helping hand by bussing Ranger College students to the polls!
Repeatedly, we have heard Ranger promise the real tax rate will be $.11 per $100 valuation. Repeatedly we have heard them argue that this tax wasn’t retroactive, and taxpayers in Erath County would not be held responsible for that $10,000,000 bond. Many of us attended a meeting at Ranger Junior College’s Stephenville Campus to get answers to our questions. But, Ranger officials were less than candid and certainly not transparent. All questions had to be submitted in writing. Then the questions were screened as to which ones they would answer. And questions were limited to one per audience member. And in the interest of time – they limited the time for questions to approximately 15 minutes. But, finally, last week, a meeting was held by Stephenville’s Business and Professional Women’s Club. There was no moderator screening questions. My question concerned that $10,000,000 debt service which resulted in the Ranger taxpayers being burdened with an I&S rate of .21 cents per $100 for a total tax of .43 per $100. I just didn’t see how Ranger could have that debt, yet the college could promise that everyone, including Ranger, would have a tax of .11 cents if we were annexed. Wouldn’t Ranger’s tax necessarily be higher since they have a $10,000,000 debt to pay off for those non-existent dorms? And FINALLY the truth came out – Ranger would pay less because the geographic area would be expanded to include a much larger tax base. They didn’t mean to say it. Silence fell in the room. Everyone realized they had just admitted WE were paying the $10,000,000 debt for Ranger!
And, are we really sure it will only be 11 cents per $100? Do you want to take Ranger’s word for it? Last week they had their attorney state in a letter that Ranger would be legally bound to the 11 cents if the annexation is approved. But, at their Board of Regents meeting on August 25th, item # 8 was worded as follows: ” Consider and encourage 2018 Board to set the tax rate at 11 cents per $100 valuation when new territory joins the district.” Does the word encourage sound legally binding to you?
Our taxpayers simply work too hard for their money to turn it over to an entity that we can not trust! I encourage this community to set a record voter turnout on November 7th and vote AGAINST this money grab! Do not let Ranger decide our future with busloads of students!