At a press conference held Wednesday morning, June 26, at the South Texas College Cooper Center in McAllen, the STC Board of Trustees officially presented the details of November’s upcoming 2013 Bond & Maintenance Election. On the ballot will be two propositions that, if passed, would result in a tax increase, and an almost twenty-five million dollar construction and renovation project for the Starr County Campus.
Following opening remarks by Starr Co. Industrial Foundation President, and STC Board of Trustees Chair Rose Benavides, STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed addressed the crowd with details about the Bond & Maintenance Election, and the proposed tax increase. “We have worked on this for two years” stated Reed. “We have been cutting it back to the point that we think this is financially affordable in our community, it is a responsible approach to the taxpayer. It’ll work.”
According to Reed, the Bond & Maintenance Election includes two propositions. Proposition 1 authorizes $159,028,940 in bonds for the construction and equipping of college buildings for Rio Grande City, La Joya, McAllen, Pharr, and Weslaco. Proposition 2 authorizes three-cents additional tax for the maintenance and operation of the college. A one-half cent tax increase will be used for twenty-year debt payment on the $159,028,940 in bonds. The overall proposed tax increase will be three-and-a-half cents per $100 property valuation.
Being that the total current tax rate is fifteen cents per $100 of property valuation. If passed, the new tax rate increase of three-and-a-half cents would result in eighteen-and-a-half cents per $100 total tax. Senior citizens and the disabled are exempt from the property tax increase as a result of this election.
“If you have a $100,000 home, it would be another $35 [per year].” said Reed. “We have made every effort to reduce the scope of this Bond election. It’s a very responsible plan, and we believe it’s affordable for most of the families in our community” added Reed.
If voters from both Hidalgo and Starr Counties vote yes on both propositions, the STC Starr County Campus would see the construction of a new Health Professions and Science Center, a new library, and the expansion and renovation of existing buildings and services all of which adds up to an estimated total cost of $24,464,584.
“The idea is to invest in [the addition of] close to one-hundred-thousand square-feet at the Starr County Campus, and bring a lot of other programs including nursing and allied health specifically” said Rose Benavidez. “I think it’s important for people to know that the average home in Starr County is appraised at about $50,000. If you have a $50,000 home, your increase is $17.50 per year. It’s a small investment. Every year, about twelve-hundred Starr County residents graduate from STC. These are people that are finding good paying jobs, and moving forward. You can’t put a price-tag on allowing residents of your community [the opportunity] to be able to do that.”
Early voting for the election begins Monday, October 21, and election day is Tuesday, November 5. Polling times and locations for both Hidalgo, and Starr County will soon be announced on the website: http://bond2013.southtexascollege.edu