San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 26th, 2010
San Marcos ACCess says bitterness remains

022610accA model of a proposed San Marcos campus for Austin Community College, unveiled Thursday with the start of a petition drive to place ACC annexation on the November ballot in San Marcos CISD. Photo by Andy Sevilla.

By ANDY SEVILLA
Associate Editor

San Marcos ACCess began its petition drive to bring Austin Community College (ACC) into San Marcos CISD Thursday with a pledge that the process will be honest and transparent.

Many San Marcos residents remain leery of ACC after the 2006 petition process, riddled with bamboozlement, ended with findings of signature fraud. ACC ended up pulling its effort to annex the San Marcos school district.

Organizers of the new effort say they’re fighting against lingering bitterness from the last effort. San Marcos ACCess co-chair Kim Porterfield said the firm contracted to gather signatures by the 2006 steering committee, ACC yes, acted “unscrupulous” and did not appropriately reflect the committee or ACC. This time, Porterfield said, the committee is not taking “any paid signatures.”

Nor is the committee hiring a firm to collect signatures. Porterfield said the signatures will be collected by members of San Marcos ACCess and anyone who is interested in getting the initiative on the ballot.

“I think the San Marcos ACCess committee wants to ensure open transparency,” Porterfield said. “We want a dialogue of the pros and cons about bringing ACC to San Marcos, so that people can make an educated, informed decision. We want the voters to decide, but we need to get it on the ballot.”

San Marcos ACCess co-chair and San Marcos High School senior Miguel Arredondo said the late start into getting the petition drive underway can be attributed to the 2006 fiasco. According to the ACC annexation timeline, signature collection could have begun on Nov. 16.

Arredondo said San Marcos ACCess met four or five times in efforts to diminish the “perception” of the 2006 initiative before actually kick-starting the new petition. He said transparency was chief among the committee’s goals and that the committee “needed to have our ducks in a row.”

San Marcos ACCess took on the task of getting at least five-percent of SMCISD registered voters to sign a petition aimed at placing annexation into the ACC district on the November ballot. The committee needs to gather about 2,000 signatures by April 9.

Should voters give the go-ahead in November, San Marcos residents would be eligible for in-district tuition, reducing the cost from $137 per credit hour to $39. ACC would also build a campus near San Marcos High School on the east side of town. In exchange, property owners would be taxes 9.46 cents per $100 of taxable valuation.

ACC has capped its maintenance and operation (M&O) tax rate at nine cents, and an increase can only come about with voter approval. Senior citizens and disabled property owners would receive a $105,000 tax exemption, along with a $5,000 homestead exemption. Seniors also would receive up to six-credit hours of free tuition contingent upon available seating. In-district individuals receive free access to ACC’s Early College Start Program, which allows high school students to earn up to one-year of transferable college credit.

Among the advocates of the proposal who spoke at Thursday’s kick-off ceremony in the San Marcos Public Library were Texas State Provost Perry Moore, Texas State Associated Student Government (ASG) Vice President Tommy Luna, San Marcos Education Foundation Executive Director Daniel Guerrero, San Marcos Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Chair Denise Collazo, and former Chair of the San Marcos ENLACE Coalition Albert Sierra, who also co-chairs the ACC steering committee.

Moore and Luna discussed the benefit ACC would bring to San Marcos, including the offer of certifications that Texas State doesn’t provide.

Moore said community colleges attract business to cities in that the colleges can provide a skilled workforce with proper certification in a year, whereas universities cannot.

“Texas State students will also benefit from certificate programs and other courses that help us pick up other skills not available on the hill to make us more marketable,” said Luna, who added that students, through ACC, can take “inexpensive” summer classes.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reports that 55 percent of San Marcos CISD’s 2008 graduates didn’t enter college within the year of high school graduation. TEA also reports that about 60 percent of San Marcos CISD students are economically disadvantaged. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that about 50 percent of 25-year-olds in San Marcos have obtained no education beyond a high school diploma, whereas that figure for all of Hays County is below 40 percent.

Porterfield said petition lists are available at the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, and San Marcos ACCess will soon have a website up with details.

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7 thoughts on “San Marcos ACCess says bitterness remains

  1. THE ANSWER IS NO!!!!!!!!

    NO MORE TAXES WHEN THIS COUNTRY IS SINKING INTO A MODERN DAY DEPRESSION!

    HOW FOOLISH CAN YOU PEOPLE BE?????

    LET’S GET THESE FREE SPENDING LIBERALS OUT OF OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND START CUTTING SPENDING WHILE WE STILL CAN!

  2. It has been less than five years since they committed fraud and lied to us. If they went to jail like they should have it would have been longer than five years before we heard from them again.

  3. Bob, screaming does little to help your argument. While Hays County has not been growing as fast as the recent past, we are not in a depression here. Rodney, the fraud you speak of was committed by a hired consultant that was not hired or paid by ACC. ACC did not pay them a dime. You may not agree with the argument that more access to education is a great tool to help people to become more economically viable citizens but please move pass the actions in the past of a less than honest consultant. Sign the petition and let the voters decide.

  4. ARMYDAD, who are YOU to say what helps “my argument? You’re say you’re not in a depression here……..YET…..but what about the people who are out of work or about to lose their jobs? Liberals seldom plan for the future financially. Look at California! Look at Detroit! Look at all the other states where liberals like you have taken the financial reins, but forgot to hook up the horses before you yelled, Gidyup!

    In the coming year, many families won’t be able to meet EXISTING property taxes, and for every dollar you increase it, fewer will pay. (no one goes down and pays “part” of their property tax bill)

    YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT 9 BUCKS ON EACH $1000 OF PROPERTY VALUATION. Do you think you should be RAISING TAXES into the teeth of the largest GLOBAL DEPRESSION IN WORLD HISTORY? And like ALL tax increases, do you think it’ll END THERE?

    You better either get some financial sense, or go back to school in liberal Austin, but STAY THE HECK OUT OF SAN MARCOS WITH YOUR TAX AND SPEND LIBERAL POLITICS!

  5. “It has been less than five years since they committed fraud and lied to us. If they went to jail like they should have it would have been longer than five years before we heard from them again.”

    Right Rodney. These criminals just keep coming with this sewage legislation and attempted tax increases. They LOOOOOVE to spend our money, but forget about the backbone of our county……THE TAXPAYER, who already shoulders DOUBLE the useless debt that we should!

    If their intentions are good, what’s the hurry? Why not wait until the stores stop going out of business and hours stop being cut from workers before they make MORE commitments they can’t honor and have to LIE and CHEAT to get pass a plan they can’t submit with HONOR AND INTEGRITY. (because they KNOW it wouldn’t pass!)

  6. Bob, I earned my degree at SWT but I do have certifications at UT and Texas A&M and I’m proud of it. My family has been in San Marcos since about 1885 so good luck trying to get rid of the me or any of them. Turn of Fox News. If you have problems paying your bill refer to one of the favorite quotes of conservatives “pull yourself up my your boots straps”. Sign the petition and let the voters decide.

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