On the ballot this May is Proposition 1 a $600 million bond election issued by Collin College, to fund future infrastructure.
Collin College board of trustees Chairman Bob Collins said the bonds are needed to fund the college’s 2018-2021 master plan, which includes building several new facilities. If the bond passes, a Wylie Campus, Celina Center, Farmersville Center, Technical Center and Public Safety Training Center will be built.
“It calls for us to develop about four or five new facilities primarily aimed at addressing the big time growth wave that we’ve got coming to Collin County,” Collins said.
Currently, the property tax rate for Collin County residents is $0.0812 cents per $100 of property evaluation.
Collins said if the bond passes there should be little to no change in the overall tax rate.
“There’s some comments going around that are saying we’re going to charge 12 cents to service the debt,” he said. “That’s not true. It’s not factual. What that 12 cents is, is a maximum rate that we could charge if we wanted to charge it, but we’re not planning to do that. We’re planning to keep the overall tax rate, the total tax rate for the college at just a hair over eight cents per $100 evaluation.”
He said expansion of the tax base is what will allow the tax rate to stay low while still increasing property tax revenue.
Collin County is one of the fastest growing counties in Texas. Since 2010, the county’s population has increased by 20 percent according to the U.S Census Bureau website. Collins said forecasts show the county’s population doubling in just 13 years and tripling by 2040.
“The population of the county as best we can tell from the data that we’ve seen is going to double by 2030,” he said. “That’s 13 years from now, and triple by 2040 or in that time range. These are all just forecasts. You know how accurate they are. But in Collin County over the years the forecast have been fairly accurate, some high some low. Nevertheless pretty close.”
Ken Lynn, the college’s acting vice president of administrative services, said there are three scenarios with the bond package that could affect residents tax rate.
The first scenario is the bond passes and growth in the tax base increases at a faster than anticipated rate. The tax rate could fall for residents by as much as one cent if that happens.
The second scenario is that tax base growth continues as projected at about 7 percent annually. The tax rate could fall 3/10th of one cent.
The third scenario is if growth in the county tax base increases at 2 percent annually — a lower percentage than predicted. Taxes could increase by 1.3 cents if that happens.
On the Collin College website, a breakdown of the projected tax rate from 2020 through 2025 is listed. The projection shows scenario two, the moderation prediction of 7 percent annual growth in the tax base. The following rates are from the college website:
• Collin College’s 2016 total tax rate = $0.081222
• Projected 2020 total tax rate (w/ bond debt) = $0.081222
• Projected 2024 total tax rate (w/bond debt) = $0.081222
• Projected 2025 total tax rate (w/ bond debt) = $0.079988
The bonds will not be issued at one time but will be spread out over the course of seven years to pay construction costs.
The $600 million will be spent in phases.
The first phase will build Collin Technical Center, Preston Ridge Campus Workforce University Building, Central Park Campus infrastructure and wayfinding, Preston Ridge wayfinding, and Spring Creek Campus wayfinding. Wayfinding is the cost associated with changing signs and directories that help students find their way inside buildings. Total cost of the projects is approx. $271,205,253, completion 2019-2020.
The second phase will include the Wylie Campus, Farmersville Center and Celina Center. This phase is set to cost approximately $260,947,020, and be completed in 2020-2021.
The third phase will include a Preston Ridge Campus student union welcome center and repurposing of existing buildings, and a Central Park Campus student union welcome center along with repurposing of existing buildings. For a total cost of $67,847,727, completion is expected 2021-2022.
If county residents decide not to vote for the proposition, Collins said the board would have to take a long hard look at the type of education they will be able to provide to its expanding student base.
“We’ll have to sit down and decide what we’re going to do going forward,” he said. “We have not addressed that, there will be a lot of discussion on it. We’ll have to develop a whole strategy for how we can fund the growth.”