Ranger College Annexation FAQ’s

How is Ranger College currently funded?

The 2017-2018 budget of Ranger College is approximately $20 million dollars.  Their revenue comes from:

  • $4.4 million State of Texas General Fund (from TX. Legislature)
  • $6.7 million Tuition and fees
  • $603,000 Local property taxes (Ranger ISD)
  • $8.1 million Grants, Texas Workforce Development Agreements & other revenue

Then & Now

 

Then-2009 data Now-2017 data
Total Students 690 2,500
School Districts Served 3 41
Total Ranger Budget $6.1 mill $20.0 mill
State Contribution 2.46 mill $4.48 mill
Percent of State Aid 40% 22.40%

What are Ranger College’s current in-district property taxes?

Ranger College District property owners pay taxes in support of comprehensive programs and services and supports the maintenance and operation (M&O) of the Ranger campus. The total tax rate is $.223 per $100 assessed property value.

In 2016, voters in Ranger ISD approved a $10 million general obligation bond and the creation of an Interest and Debt (I&S) Fund Property Tax rate, which will be $.21 per $100 assessed property value as well.  The $10m bonds are to support construction and renovation of existing facilities at the Ranger College Main Campus which will include new Science, Education and Academic buildings, a Welcome Center for Parents, Students and Alumni, and a much-needed new cafeteria and auditorium.

What are the current tuition rates for in-district (those paying taxes) and out-of-district students (those living outside Ranger ISD and the City of Ranger)?

Currently, the out-of-district tuition and mandatory fees applied to Brown, Comanche and Erath County residents, which is $151 per semester credit hour. With the passage of the tax annexation, the newly annexed County residents would benefit from the significantly lower in-district tuition and mandatory fees of only $103 per SCH. For example, RC students from one of the three counties, currently pay $524 in tuition and mandatory fees for a 3-semester credit hour course while in-district students pay $380 for the same course – a savings of $144 for every 3 SCH course. For a full-time student taking 12 SCH, this results in a total savings of $556 per semester.

Are there benefits for our High School students and their families?

Yes, High school students are eligible to take Dual Credit courses and receive Pell Grants to help pay for college-level courses.  Dual credit are courses a High School student takes that count towards a collegiate degree (like Associates or Bachelors).  In fact, some area students have taken enough hours to graduate with an Associate degree from Ranger College even before they graduate from High School.  Being able to take these classes while still at home, enables a family to save thousands of dollars in tuition, fees and living expenses taking basic college courses rather than pay the cost of attending a 4-year college or university.  The current out-of-district rate for Dual Credit courses is $80 per semester credit hour (SCH) vs $25 for in-district students.

What would the tax rate be if the any of the county voters join the community college district?

The Texas Constitution Article VIII, Sec. 1A requires all jurisdictions that have voted to be in-district members of Ranger College to be taxed at the same level.  Should voters in Brown, Comanche or Erath County vote to join the Ranger College District, the Ranger College Board of Trustees has stated on the record and as required by State law, the tax rate would be $.11 per $100 assessed property value.

When will the new tax rate go into effect?

The tax rate and jurisdictions for 2018 have already been approved.  If Voters approve the annexation vote in November 2017, the new counties would not be included in the 2018 assessment.  In August of 2018, the Board of Trustees will adopt the new tax rate of $.11 per $100 of assessed property value that would be paid in the Spring of 2019, based on the 2018 value of your property.

State law does not allow the taxes paid to be retroactive, thus property taxpayers will not be assessed a tax based on the current Ranger ISD rate of $.223/$100 maintenance (M&O) tax rate and the $.21/$100 debt (I&S) tax rate approved by Ranger ISD voters in 2016.  The tax rate to be levied on the newly annexed areas will be $.11/$100 rate adopted by the Board in August 2018 and as was published in the local newspaper as required by Texas law.

So why does the ballot language say the tax rate is the combined rate of the $.43/$100 valuation?  (Based on $.223/$100 M&O Rate and the $.21/$100 I&S rate)

The ballot language is set by Texas Education Code Sec. 130.065 (g), neither the Board or the County Clerks can change the language.  State law requires the ballot language to list the CURRENT tax rate, not the proposed tax rate.  However, State law, Texas Education Code Sec. 130.065(c) required the College to state publicly what the proposed rate will be in the Service Plan that was required to be published in the local newspaper.  Ranger College complied with state law and ran the required Service Plans in each county, stating the proposed rate would be $.11/$100 valuation.  The Service Plans ran in the local newspapers beginning the week of May 17.

When the service area is annexed, what happens next?

After the voters approve the annexation, several actions must be completed for the territory to officially become a part of the district.

  • Election results will be canvassed and the results “certified” via an order that the annexation issue is approved by the voters. This must occur no fewer than eight days and nor more than eleven days after Election Day.
  • The Board of Trustees passes a resolution amending its boundaries.
  • The Board of Trustees changes tuition rates for the new in-district residents for the 2018 Spring Semester.
  • The Board of Trustees will begin implementation of the redistricting plan related to Board representation so that all the new counties will vote on local representation to the Board of Trustees. State law requires the Board to adopt either single-member districts based on population or at-large districts or a combination of both.

Once the election has been certified by the county and the Board of Trustees, the new territory is considered part of the community college district, and students in the new territory can pay the lower in-district tuition effective in the Spring of 2018 academic year. Property owners in the newly annexed territory will begin paying property taxes to the College in Spring 2019, after the Board of Trustees adopts the rate of $.11/$100 valuations, as required by law in August 2018.

How will annexation impact senior citizens?

An educated population is important for all citizens – ensuring a vibrant economy and a safer community and assured continuation of a highly-qualified workforce that benefits all citizens, especially our senior population. This workforce includes nurses, EMT/paramedics, health care providers, HVAC technicians, electricians, plumbers, Cosmetologists, and computer technicians, among many others. Enhancing college programs in the community will make higher education more convenient and affordable, potentially increasing the neighborhood’s appeal and stabilizing or increasing property values.

What are the implications of successful annexation on the future of Ranger College?

  • Secure long-term future of the College
  • Expand offerings on the Brown, Comanche and Erath County campuses
  • In Brown County, Ranger College proposes purchasing the current Bank of America Building and converting it to a new Brown County Campus.
  • In Comanche County, Ranger College would like to upgrade the current facility to accommodate a $1 million grant to fund a State of the Art Virtual Operating Room to help train more licensed nurses in our community. Additionally, there is a need for a cosmetology program.
  • The current campus in Stephenville would be able to expand workforce training programs to assist area businesses train and certify their employees rather than have to pay travel and expenses to send their workers to Dallas or Houston.
  • Generate revenue to support the operation of facilities in all counties and programs for all students
  • Expanded workforce programs offered on all campuses and as dual credit career and technical education for high school students

Who can vote on the Ranger College annexation proposition?

All registered voters living in Brown, Comanche and Erath Counties will vote on the issue.  Each county will vote separately on whether to join the District, meaning all three counties could vote to join, or just one or two counties could approve the measure.

Who circulated the petitions?  How did this get on the ballot?

Texas Education Code Sec. 130.065 requires the Ranger Board of Trustees must call an election if a petition is presented to the Board bearing the signatures of at least 5% of the number of registered voters in that County.

The BERC (Brown, Erath, Ranger & Comanche) Education Committee is a state required Political Action Committee.   Area citizens had been discussing the annexation for more than two years when leaders from each county began the process to collect the signatures.

The BERC Education Committee funded the effort to gather the signatures which were presented to Ranger College on July 24, 2017.

Who is Trey Trainor and why did Ranger College certify the petitions and not the County Voter Registrars?

Ranger College is a government entity created by the Texas Legislature.  It is governed by an elected nine-member Board of Trustees who set policy and hire an administrative staff of the College.  Texas Education Code Sec. 130.065 states the Board has presented the petitions and must order the election if enough signatures are verified.

To provide transparency in the process, Ranger College hired an attorney, Trey Trainor, former General Counsel of the Texas Secretary of State to oversee the verification process.  Voter Registrars in each county provided the most up to date list of registered voters and determined the number of people who were eligible voters at the time of the last General Election.  This number was required to determine the number of signatures needed to order the election.

On August 7th, the Ranger College Board was presented with the verified petitions that contained more than 3,200 verified signatures (1500 in Brown County, 509 in Comanche County and 1209 in Erath County).  As required by State law, the Ranger College Board ordered the election at the next uniform election date of November 7, 2017.

Ranger College is contracting with each County Elections Department to conduct the election in accordance with State law as required during the November general election.  The County Elections officials will determine the hours and places where voting will take place.

UPDATE:  On September 13, President Donald Trump nominated Mr. Trainor as Commissioner of the Federal Elections Commission.  Mr. Trainor will be one of six members of the Commission after confirmation by the United States Senate.

Why are there posts on Facebook and Social Media saying the Board of Trustees already voted to annex the three counties?

Unfortunately, Fake News stories and misinformation is not only found in our national elections but has reared its ugly head in the annexation debate.

One example is the Fake News story on Facebook claiming the Ranger College Board of Trustees just “voted to annex the Counties anyway” without an election.  This, of course, would be against state law.  Whoever wrote the story made up fake names, like the Chairman of the Board, “Mr. Sandy Beach” (The Real Board Chairman is Mr. Jackie Stephens).  Unfortunately, many people believed the story to be real.  College officials received calls from upset citizens.  Even the Voter Registrar in one County commented she had received calls as well.

What can be done about the misinformation and Fake News on Social media?

Unfortunately, not much.  That’s why voters are encouraged to get their information from many sources.  Much of the information found on the internet is anonymous, so there is no way to hold anyone accountable for the content.

After there was so much discussion of Fake News on social media, groups like Facebook have vowed to crack down these sites.  If you feel something is Fake News or is purposely trying to confuse voters, please report the post to Facebook.  If you feel something is in violation of State Campaign Ethics Laws, please contact the Texas Ethics Commission at www.ethics.state.tx.us/main/enforcement.htm

Why are these counties (Brown, Comanche and Erath) joining Ranger College and not someplace else like Cisco Jr. College?

In 2005, the Texas Legislature assigned every county into a Junior College District.  The Texas Education Code Sec. 130.196 states the Ranger College Service District Service Area is Ranger ISD in Eastland County, Comanche, Brown, Erath and Young Counties (except that part of Young County located in Graham ISD.

 Is it true that the Texas Legislature considered shutting down Ranger College?

Just like the Texas Legislature discusses consolidating K-12 school districts, they have also discussed from time to time the issue of consolidating Community Colleges as well.  As part of the review, Ranger College was encouraged to do more programs in the out of district counties in their service area.  The result is what you see today, with $6,000,000 dollars spent to purchase and renovate the Stephenville campus, secure the site in Comanche County and provide education and training programs in Brown County at the Mall facility in Early, Texas and the downtown Brownwood Campus.

In 2011, Community College Week reported Ranger College was the fifth fastest growing 2-year college in the Nation.  The 2016 Fall enrollment was 2,257 students and they provide Dual-credit college classes to students in more than 24 different high schools.

They also have received a $5million grant to perform workforce development programs to train and certify a host of skills and technology positions, generating millions of dollars in increased wages in the local community.

Is it true that Ranger College is the only school in Texas, including 4-year Universities that can offer Pell Grants to High School Student?  Isn’t that a great honor?

Yes, Ranger College was selected as the ONLY Texas institution of higher education to offer these Pell Grants to eligible High School Students.

Social Media comments claim Ranger College will be charging some of the highest property taxes in the County.  Is that true?*

Absolutely false.  Ranger College’s proposed tax rate of $.11/$100 valuation would not the highest rate in any county, in fact, it would be one of the lowest tax rates of all taxing authorities in each county.

In Brown County, there are 16 Taxing Authorities, (4 Cities, 10 Independents School Districts and 2 County).  The highest at $1.39/$100 and the lowest the County Road Fund at $.07/$100.  If approved by Brown County voters, the Ranger Annexation Property Tax rate of $.11/$100 would be the 2nd LOWEST taxing authority in the County.

Comanche County has 22 Taxing Authorities (3 City, 2 County, 15 ISD, 1 Hospital, and 1 Water District).  The highest $1.36/$100 and the lowest the Middle Trinity Water District at $.01/$100.  Again, Ranger College would be the 2nd LOWEST in the County.

Erath County has 14 Taxing Units.  (2 City, 2 County, 9 ISD, 1 Water District).  The highest is $1.30/$100 and the lowest is the Middle Trinity Water District at $.01/$100.  It was stated the County rate was $.12/$100 but that is only the Road & Bridge Fund.  The combined County General Fund and the Special Road and Bridge Fund is $.47/$100.  Again, as in all three counties, Ranger College would be the 2nd LOWEST taxing authority in the County.

**All rates are rounded to the hundredths place value for clarity.

What will be the tax implications for the average homeowner?

The average home value was obtained from each County’s Tax Assessor-Collector or Central Appraisal District.  Based on $.11/$100 valuation before any deductions are applied, the tax would be the following.

County                                   Ave. Home Value                            Annual Tax/Monthly

Brown                                     $101,126                                           $111.24 /  $9.27

 

Comanche                            $ 66,465                                             $ 73.11 /  $6.09

 

Erath                                      $114,623                                           $ 126.08 / $10.51

Social media posts have claimed that even if Ranger College adopts the $.11/$100 tax rate, they can raise it to the maximum the next year and nothing could be done about it.  Is that true?

No, that is incorrect as well.  Under Texas Truth in Taxation Laws, Ranger College would be subject to the same rules are all other taxing authorities whereby if the effective tax rate is increased more than 3%, the Board must hold a public hearing before the rate can be adopted and if the rate is more than 7.99%, the increase can be repealed by a vote of the people.  By State law, after the initial rate of $.11/$100 is adopted, the maximum rate the Board can adopt is $.50.  However, with these requirements, it would take over 20 years to increase the rate to the maximum to 2039.

By comparison, Ranger College’s current property tax rate was $.24/$100 in 2007.  In 2018, the rate was lowered to $.223/$100. Until voters approved the 2016 Bond referendum to build/renovates facilities on the Ranger Campus, the property tax rate over a 10-year period stayed virtually the same or is now lower.

The voters of Ranger ISD will see an additional tax rate of $.21/$100 as a result of the $10 million bond approved by voters last year and once the bonds are paid off, the tax rate is removed.

 

 

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