Collin College has called a $600 million bond election for May 6 to facilitate its long-range master plan. College officials said they expect the financial impact to the tax rate to be minimal.
Collin College’s current tax rate is 8.122 cents per $100 of property valuation. It is the lowest tax rate in Collin County and the second-lowest tax rate out of 50 community college districts in Texas, according to the Texas Comptroller’s office.
“Our tax rate is exceptionally low, and over the years we have been frugal, and we have tried to be wise in how we spend taxpayer money while providing a high quality education,” board of trustees Chairman Bob Collins said.
Ken Lynn, Collin College chief financial officer, said when the bonds are issued in 2024, three scenarios could affect the tax rate. The first would decrease the tax rate by one cent. The second would decrease the tax rate by 3/10 of 1 cent and the third would increase the tax rate by 1.3 cents.
Lynn said the college has put together a financing plan that includes a rate stabilization feature. This means that the college will reduce the Maintenance & Operations tax rate—which provides funds for maintenance and operations—to give room for an increase to the Interest & Sinking tax rate, which provides funds for payments on the debt that finances a district’s facilities.
“The goal is to keep [the rates] balanced so that over time there is little to no effect on the overall tax rate,” Lynn said.
If voters approve the bond, the proceeds would go toward construction of six facilities: a campus in Wylie; educational centers in Celina and Farmersville; a public safety training center in McKinney; a workforce/university IT center of excellence on the Preston Ridge campus in Frisco; and a technical training center in Allen. It would also help fund improvements and renovations to existing buildings.
Collins said the college is free of debt and has kept pace with growth for the past 32 years. As Collin County continues to grow, the bond is necessary to keep up with the rapid growth, Collins said.
“The county is projected to double in population by 2030 and triple by 2040. I can tell you that our current footprint will not be able to handle that growth,” Collin College President Neil Matkin said.
Why $600 million?
Collin College hired PBK Architects to conduct a facilities master-plan study last spring. The study showed the college had to expand its footprint, an undertaking that is expected to cost about $600 million, Lynn said.
“As of right now, the costs are estimates, and once the college hires a program manager to oversee the projects, we’ll be able to refine those estimates,” Lynn said.
Collins said if the costs of building the facilities come in at less than $600 million, then the college would not sell the rest of the bonds.
“But the fact is, we want it there just in case we need it,” Collins said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen on prices or basic costs with what we’re trying to do.”
Trustee Mac Hendricks was the only board member to vote against the bond proposal. He said he would have liked a bond proposal that was more reasonable than $600 million.
“I’ve been on the board 15 years, and I’m very progressive,” Hendricks said. “We’ve done well and moved forward, but [$600 million is a lot of money] and a year ago we paid off a $13 million bond.”
The last Collin College bond election was in 2001. Since then the college has built facilities in Plano, Frisco and McKinney.
Trustee Jim Orr said the college needs to be prepared for the massive growth coming to Collin County. As more people have moved into the county, he said it has made it harder for students from other cities such as Wylie, Celina and Farmersville to make it to McKinney, Plano or Frisco for classes.
“We’re not really serving the county as we should in terms of providing some place for the students to come,” Orr said.
Collin College spokesperson Tom Delamater said information about the bond will be shared through newsletters and the college website.
A group called Committee of 100 made up of business and civic leaders will also be campaigning for the bond. The committee will hold meetings as well as send out informational materials to county voters about the bond.
For more information on the college’s master plan and bond proposal, visit www.collin.edu/masterplan.