by SCOTT THOMAS
When residents got a chance to tell the Austin Community College board and president how they felt about an increased presence of the school in San Marcos one issue kept coming back up – economics.
Advocates for the campus touted the increased spending that students attending a San Marcos ACC campus would bring. Council Member Kim Porterfield, who has been a leading advocate since the beginning of the initiative, started the citizen comment period by reading a letter from the San Marcos Manufacturers Association.
“Education and economic advancement go hand in hand,” Porterfield read from the letter.
She added her own comments praising ACC’s alternative energy programs and emphasized the economic advantage the campus could bring.
“An ACC campus will raise the quality of life, expand the middle class, help attract new businesses and expand ones we have,” she said.
But not everyone was as enthusiastic as Porterfield was about the possibility of a San Marcos ACC campus. Some of the citizens at the meeting worried about the city having to pay for a community college campus that is based in Austin.
Under state law, community colleges must have a local revenue stream from property taxes. There are exceptions for homes of elderly or disabled individuals making less than $80,000. According to numbers provided by ACC, a homeowner whose property was valued at $120,000 would pay $9.07 a month, or $108.79 annually to support a community college campus.
But the numbers did not impress those who were at the meeting to speak out against the campus.
Andrew Gary, who spoke on behalf of Citizens Advocating Responsible Education in San Marcos CISD said his organization believed San Marcos’s first priority should be K-12 schools and shouldn’t pay the money to have an ACC campus. Gary, an attorney in San Marcos, said ACC is a business with thousands of employees, a law firm and lobbyists to advocate for it.
““Here we are, San Marcos property owners, what do we have? It’s none of the above,” Gary said. “What you are asking the SM property owners to do is something no one on this board would agree to on behalf of ACC.”
Gary said the campus would take millions of dollars outside of San Marcos and into Austin, and he said little of that money would return.
It was a point repeated by other San Marcos residents at the meeting, but not uncontested.
Nina Wright, San Marcos resident, said a more educated populace would earn higher salaries, use fewer government services such as Medicaid and welfare, and serve the populace in other ways such as voting more.
She said this justified the money the city would pay and help it earn back that money.
Dale Spencer, San Marcos resident, downplayed the effects the taxes going toward ACC would have on individual property owners by equating it to “a movie and a popcorn once a month, without a drink.”
Other residents said the campus would help the economically poorer residents of San Marcos. Herod Ellison, San Marcos resident, said he pulled himself out of childhood poverty by educating himself. He said affordable higher education was critical in his life, saying that San Antonio Community College started him on a path that lead to him graduating from South West Texas State University.
Another concern about housing an ACC campus in San Marcos was the permanence of its location.
Griffin Spell, San Marcos resident, said the millions of dollars to get the campus to San Marcos is “only the beginning.”
“We’re not going to be allowed to leave, it’s simply not legal to do,” Spell said. “This is a permanent solution, something that will affect our city on and on.”Email | Print