CTC ChancellorJim Yeonoplus and resident business owner Howard 'Scot' Arey

Central Texas College Chancellor Jim Yeonoplus, right, and local business owner Howard “Scot” Arey exchange words after a public hearing on the CTC tax rate Tuesday.

Central Texas College held a second public hearing Tuesday regarding a proposed new tax rate of about 14.83 cents per $100 property valuation that would affect property owners within the Killeen and Copperas Cove Independent School taxing districts. 

The new tax rate is a 6.99 percent increase from last year’s rate of 13.99 cents per $100 of taxable value, according to the CTC.

The new rate means the amount of taxes imposed on the average home within the Central Texas College jurisdiction, which is valued at around $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 Friday.

The statement was contested at the public hearing Tuesday 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 2017-2018.

“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 last week 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 that 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 that 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.

The CTC board will vote on the proposed tax rate at its next meeting, Aug. 28 in the board’s meeting room at the Anderson Campus Center.

kfarmer@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7557

Educational Reporter

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