Howard College Board of Trustees held a Public Hearing on a tax increase on Thursday, 08/27/2020, evening. Several people spoke out against the increase in the proposed tax rate, noting that many residents are experiencing financial hardships at this time as a result of the pandemic and urged board members to “hold the line” and not raise the tax rate. It was also noted by speakers that the budget submitted to the board had used a no-new-revenue tax rate, but board members voted to seek a three percent increase in the tax rate.
During the hearing, Dr. Cheryl Sparks, President of Howard College, explained that the estimated 2020 Tax Rate Calculations showed that the I&S Tax Rate had increased from last year. Combined with the proposed M&O Rate for 2020, this surpassed the No-New-Revenue Tax Rate for 2020 and automatically created a need for a public hearing on the rise of the tax rate.
She advised that the proposed increase in the tax rate was sought to assist with brick and mortar repairs. Dr. Sparks also stated that SWCD, Southwest College for the Deaf, had seen a five percent decrease in legislative funding this year, and Howard College was expected to see one next year. She also stated that there had been an decrease in enrollment, and it was also anticipated to impact the college’s funding from the state.
Ben Zeicheck, new member of the Board of Trustees, advised that he felt the increase was needed to take care of repairs now before they become worse by putting them off for another time, noting that the increase for these repairs would cost most taxpayers no more than the amount of one burger. Members of the public disputed this and stated that many people have had to make cutbacks, layoffs, and hold off repairs and that Howard College should be no different in having to adjust the current economic situation.
The Howard College Board of Trustees will meet again today, August 31st, at 12:30 PM in the Fireplace Room at the Student Union building of the Big Spring Campus. A public hearing will be held 20 the 2020-2021 Howard College and SWCD budgets. Afterwards, board members will vote on the adoption of those budgets and on the adoption of the tax rate.
View the agenda for the August 31, 2020 meeting here: https://howardcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/PDF/About%20HC/Board/Agenda/2020/agenda_20_08_31.pdf