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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Budget approved despite board member objection

ALEX HOBEN
editor-in-chief
alexandra.hoben@my.tccd.edu

Trustee Shannon Wood speaking at the board meeting at Trinity River campus. Photo by Ariel Desantiago / The Collegian
Trustee Shannon Wood speaking at the board meeting at Trinity River campus. Photo by Ariel Desantiago / The Collegian

The budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year was approved by the board of trustees, but it wasn’t unanimous.

Before the Aug. 18 meeting, anticipation was high in the room for the proceedings, with many mentioning how this was a big one. The docket for this meeting had 19 individual action items, one of which was a presentation of the entire budget to the board for approval.

Every item on the agenda was passed, but not all the items had complete agreement. Trustee Shannon Wood opposed three items: the budget itself, the yearly property tax rate, and a connectivity proposal with Verizon.

During the deliberation, she expressed her concerns, particularly about the tax rate and how it would affect her constituents. Then, when asked to comment after the conclusion of the public meeting, she got more personal.

“We have a lot of people in my constituency that are low-income, and I don’t want them to be homeless, and it really upsets me when they tell me their bills have gone up,” she said. “And you know how the appraisals have gone up. My daughter’s one of those people, so it’s very upsetting to me because I don’t want people to lose their homes.”

The board set the property tax rate at $0.13017 per $100 of assessed property value. While it’s the same rate as last year, Tarrant County property values have gone up, meaning more people’s property tax bills have increased.

Board Vice President Kenneth Barr reassured the public regarding the rate. “The actual proposed rate is the same as the actual current rate for the prior year. That’s the $0.13017 tax rate,” Barr said. “The proposed rate honors the commitment made to voters for the 2019 bond program to absorb the new debt service without raising the overall rate. That’s the commitment we made, and we’re honoring that commitment.”

Also on the docket was the approval of a cumulative $4.1 million over three items for the acquisition and installation of furniture for the NW renovation project.

“Essentially we did one bid with six different categories of furnishings that are required for the NW Campus redevelopment,” said chief operating officer Susan Alanis.

Many items highlighted in the new budget were changes being made to TCC staffing, particularly the addition of new positions and an increase in pay rates. Interim Chancellor Elva LeBlanc highlighted how much thought and preparation went into these decisions when board members commended the thoroughness of Alanis and her team.

Dr. LeBlanc Speaking at the board meeting at Trinity River campus. Photo by Ariel Desantiago / The Collegian
Dr. LeBlanc Speaking at the board meeting at Trinity River campus. Photo by Ariel Desantiago / The Collegian

“We’re doing the due diligence and that’s important to mention. We’re also being more transparent than ever before,” she said. “Because you had personnel lumped in budget areas where you couldn’t monitor them and now we will be able to monitor them much better.”

LeBlanc also mentioned how important it is to realize that TCC has an incredibly important position not only in the county but on a state level.

“When we talk about the budget, we seldom take time to discuss the return on investment and critical role that TCC plays in the economic development of the entire region,” she said.
She emphasized how the revenue coming in from the college wasn’t just in the items in the budget but in the cultivation of the students attending the college.

“We are educating the current and the future workforce,” she said. “They’re becoming taxpayers, and they’re contributing to the economy. And it’s not just them, they bring their siblings along so when you look at the students for example in ECHS [Early College High School], they’re making sure their brothers or sisters are joining in, getting an education at TCC so we are huge. We make an enormous impact on the whole economy of Tarrant County and the North Texas region and that should be discussed along with this budget.”

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