IssuesLocal NewsTaxes & SpendingTarrant County College District Proposes $825 Million Bond Package

The massive bond package is being promoted as resulting in no net tax increase, but language in the proposal could pave the way for a future debt tax.
October 23, 2019
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The Tarrant County College (TCC) District has proposed an $825 million bond package for consideration by voters on the November 5th ballot. 

The bond package asks for the issuance of bonds and notes “for the purpose of constructing, improving, and renovating” buildings.

The TCC District board of directors advertises on its website that the bond package will result in no tax increase; however, the bond proposal does include language allowing for “the levying of a debt tax in payment thereof.” 

This language in the proposal opens the door for a future tax increase to pay off the debt incurred if this bond proposal passes.

With the growing tax base in Tarrant County, the district has seen increased revenues for the last few years. 

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Those increased revenues have been used for cash-funded capital improvements, but now the district believes it would be more cost-effective to “reorient those budget allocations to debt service” because of the low cost of financing, according to Susan Alanis, chief operating officer for the Tarrant County College District.  

This will allow the district to accelerate construction projects and avoid inflation, Alanis explained.

This is the first bond package election for the Tarrant County College District since 1993. It paid off its last bonds in Fiscal Year 2015. 

TCCD has no current bond rating, but Alanis believes it will achieve a solid bond rating due to its financial position.

Recently, the board adopted the effective tax rate for its maintenance and operations: approximately $0.13 per $100 valuation. The effective tax rate means that a property tax bill remains the same from one year to the next, even if the appraised value of the property increases.

The bond package information on the TCC website is general in its description of how the $825 million will be used. “We anticipate that it will be a 5-7 year horizon for complete implementation since construction will be phased to ensure we meet the needs of students,” Alanis explained.

Approximately $300 million will be used to redevelop the northwest campus for things like a new student union, new classrooms, new physical education fields and courts, and a campus mall.

The southeast campus will receive $125 million in renovations. 

Lighting, power, and utility upgrades will be made districtwide at a cost of $202 million. 

The final description is for $190 million for what the district calls “3G8P” Improvements. This stands for “3 Goals and 8 Principles” which will guide the improvements being sought – things like “an enriched student experience, campus character and quality, and integrated college and job-training classes.”

Tarrant County College is made up of six campuses and served over 50,000 students in the fall semester of 2018. Resident student tuition is $59 per credit hour. 

According to the Tarrant County College website, 35 percent of its operating expenses go to instruction. The next highest category is 14.25 percent going to scholarships and fellowships.

Early voting for this bond package has already begun and extends until November 1.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.