The approval of Central Texas College’s new proposed new tax rate of about 14.83 cents per $100 property valuation has been delayed to Sept. 18.

Two more public hearings will be held before the college’s board of trustees votes on the rate.

The two public hearings will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 6 and at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Anderson Campus Center.

The new rate, which would affect property owners within the Copperas Cove and Killeen Independent school taxing districts, is a 6.99 percent increase from last year’s rate of 13.99 cents per $100 of taxable value, according to the college.

College spokesman Bruce Vasbinder said the hearings were rescheduled due to “glitches” in public notices. The college is required by law to publish notices adhering to specific parameters, which Vasbinder said were not met.

The new rate means the amount of taxes imposed on the average home within the Central Texas College jurisdiction, which is valued at about $141,012, would be $209.12.

This is an increase from last year’s amount of $192.80 worth of taxes imposed on the average homestead, which was valued at $137.816.

“CTC has been committed to a low tax rate for many years,” CTC Chancellor Jim Yeonoplus said in a statement emailed to the Killeen Daily Herald last Thursday evening. “In fact, we have had 20-plus consecutive years of either maintaining or lowering the tax rate.”

The quote was published in the Killeen Daily Herald last week.

The statement was contested at a previous public hearing by Harker Heights resident and local business owner, Howard “Scot” Arey, who said CTC actually raised the tax rate last year.

According to CTC records, the tax rate was raised from 13.66 cents per $100 of taxable value to 13.99 cents in fiscal year 2018.

“I am disturbed that the chancellor allowed such a blatant, incorrect fact to stand in the KDH article this week,” Arey said. “Instead, the misleading ‘we have not changed tax rates in 20 years’ statement very much tamped down the public dialogue on the topic. If for no other reason, they should not raise rates with such a falsehood clouding the discussion.”

Arey, also a retired Army officer, was the only speaker at the hearing and gave a brief presentation against the proposed tax increase.

In an emailed statement to the Herald, Arey said he didn’t understand why “Central Texas taxpayers are being forced to increase taxes for a global business,” referring to CTC’s satellite campuses around the world.

Barbara Merlo, the CTC director of marketing and outreach, said the information presented by the chancellor was meant to reflect CTC’s tax record up until last year’s increase.

Merlo said CTC has a 20-year record of no tax raises or bond elections and still maintains zero debt as all funding for buildings and renovations on the 50-year old campus comes from reserves.

She said any revenue generated from the tax increase would help with the operations funding.

“In order to maintain what we do as a community college in offering affordable, accessible education to everyone, we must be able to pay our bills and keep the campus operating,” Merlo said. “We are pulling where we can to keep the college affordable.”

Merlo said doing so helps fill essential jobs within the community like police and emergency medical staff, as well as provide high school students a place to obtain their associates’ degrees as part of programs like the KISD Early College High School.

She said Central Texas College funding comes from three primary sources: tuition revenue, state appropriations and local tax revenue.

Yeonoplus said the increased tax rate is to help offset declining tuition revenue due to lower military enrollments outside Texas.

He said there is also a lack of relief from the state to help with the impact of disabled veteran property tax exemptions that have decreased overall tax revenues.

“Under the present circumstances, CTC has made the tough decision to consider an increase to the current tax rate,” Yeonoplus said in a statement emailed to KDH last week. | 254-501-7557

Educational Reporter

Herald staff writer

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