By Bill Oakey – May 28th, 2014
When it comes to local entities that impact your property taxes, Austin Community College often flies under the radar. They do not garner nearly the publicity nor the public scrutiny that Central Health, Travis County, or the City of Austin gets.
But now the cat is out of the bag and all of that is about to change.
Richard Rhodes, the President and CEO of ACC is calling for a November bond election to the tune of just under a half billion dollars – $475 million, to be exact. This article in today’s Austin American-Statesman tells the story.
It’s as if all of the dictionaries in all of the libraries at ACC somehow had the word “affordability” stripped out of them. Even if that were the case, where has Mr. Rhodes, the advisory panel that recommended the huge bond package, and the ACC Board of Trustees been lately? If they have been anywhere near the City of Austin, they must know that taxpayer here are tapped out.
In the laid back days of the 70’s and 80’s, the governmental entities had a standard process for bond proposals. They would appoint a citizens advisory panel and ask for suggestions on what would make a good bond package. The wish list items would quickly pile up, and the committee would recommend nearly all of them. Why not, they figured. Austinites always approve bond elections.
The tide began to turn last year. AISD was shocked into reality when half of their bonds failed at the polls. This year, the public’s appetite for big spending projects is even less than it was a year ago. Affordability has risen to the top tier for virtually every candidate running in the new 10-1 district City Council races.
The smartest thing ACC could do is cut their construction and renovation wish list by half or two-thirds. Then it might have some chance of passage. Otherwise, they will be set back by another year or longer, causing their most critical needs to be delayed.
What ACC is up against is the very simplest of all economic realities. People can only afford what their incomes and their budgets will allow. In a local environment where realtors are telling their neighbors that far too many Austinites are having to sell their homes because they can no longer afford to live here, everyone needs to sit up and take notice.
Since ACC, for whatever reason, has not gotten the message, you can help with that right now. Send an email message to Richard Rhodes, their President and CEO, using the link below: