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

September 27th, 2010
Commentary: A worthwhile investment for the future of San Marcos

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Mercury has invited both advocates and opponents of San Marcos CISD’s annexation into the Austin Community College taxing district to write commentary in support of their views ahead of the Nov. 2 ballot measure. This is the first in a series by members of San Marcos ACCess, the local citizen’s committee that petitioned for the measure to appear on the ballot. For an opposing viewpoint, see Lamar Hankin’s column here.

COMMENTARY by ALBERT SIERRA

Being in one of the fastest growing corridors of the nation, San Marcos is poised to grow significantly in the near future. In order to meet the challenges of managing this growth — to expand our tax base and attract good-paying jobs, we need more affordable and accessible higher education for our citizens.

The San Marcos ACCess committee was formed to accomplish this goal — to bring a full-service Austin Community College Campus, lower tuition and more workforce training to our region. At $9.46 a month for the average homeowner or 79 cents a month for the average over-65 or disabled homeowner, ACC is a bargain.

We’ll get a full service campus right here and our residents will pay lower tuition: ACC students from SMCISD currently pay $450 in tuition for a 3-credit hour course while in-district students pay $126 in tuition for the same course.

The San Marcos area is meeting the challenges of economic development in these difficult financial times through an initiative called Partners in Progress that has brought together local city, county and school districts, as well as area chambers, economic development groups, Texas State University, Central Texas Medical Center, Gary Job Corps, as well as local businesses, non profits, and manufacturers to help develop a strategic plan.

We have most of the elements of a healthy, vibrant, prosperous community. We are home to Texas State University. We have the San Marcos River and its habitat. Our retail infrastructure, home of the San Marcos outlet malls and now the San Marcos Conference Center and Embassy Suites, is the envy of the corridor and even the state.  We have a strong manufacturing base that provides good wages with benefits to hundreds of our residents.

But what we don’t have, and what all the partners agree that we need, is education that is better suited to the needs of our citizens and future workplaces. The local presence of a community college is vital to our region’s long-term economic benefits.

The San Marcos City Council agrees. The mayor and every council member voted “yes” to a resolution supporting annexation into the ACC district. Texas State’s Associated Student Government agrees, passing a similar resolution.

The gap in educational services between high school and four-year university levels is draining our pool of skilled labor. Without local access to a community college, workers are at an extraordinary disadvantage to improve skills and increase their income.

We recognize the need for affordable, accessible education for our citizens.  Education that can offer one-year certificates in good-paying fields. Education that is affordable, right here at home, for citizens who cannot afford state tuitions and have transportation difficulties. Education that can support our residents seeking improvement in their workplace skills to get ahead. Education offered by Austin Community College, as our partner.

The fact is that we have some of the lowest educational attainment rates in the corridor and our per-capital income lags considerably compared to the rest of Hays County and the corridor. Our citizens deserve the equity of lower tuition and a full-service campus right in our community. More of our residents must complete higher education in order to prosper.

Would we like to have an ACC campus and lower tuition without paying more? Would we like to have guaranteed representation on the ACC board of directors? Sure! But the return on our investment will pay off in the short-term and long-term. Small communities like Leander and Round Rock have elected their citizens to the ACC board—so can we!

With open enrollment, a track record of well-prepared transfer students, and a history of responding to industry and workforce training requirements, ACC in San Marcos will make higher education and good-paying jobs a reality for many.

Vote “yes” on November 2 to bring lower tuition and a community college campus to San Marcos

ALBERT SIERRA is executive director of the San Marcos Housing Authority and a co-chair of the San Marcos ACCess, a group that supports Austin Community College District annexation of property in San Marcos CISD.

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19 thoughts on “Commentary: A worthwhile investment for the future of San Marcos

  1. Albert, thanks for the well thought out commentary. Sadly, I do not believe that ACC is the answer, but I am VERY pleased to see the Mayor, City Council and people like yourself looking for steps that we can take to improve the education (and future) for our citizens.

    “The fact is that we have some of the lowest educational attainment rates in the corridor and our per-capital income lags considerably compared to the rest of Hays County and the corridor.”

    I could not agree more and I hope to see even more effort on this path, regardless of the outcome of the ACC issue. It would be great to see more continuing education options, more mentoring, more on-the-job training, to help our people to advance in their careers, more involvement with the university, more workshops with the parents, recent grads, dropouts, etc. In short, it would be great to see more ideas and more energy on this issue.

    Thanks for taking the time to work toward a brighter future.

  2. Where is the return on investment for the average homeowner, who’s property taxes are too high right now? Where is the ROI for the people who scrimped and saved and sent their children to Texas State or some other 5 star University, Only to have their property taxes raised to subsidize cheaper tuition for someone else. The majority of the students attending ACC in San Marcos have to be Texas State Students taking advantage of the cheaper, easier courses offered by ACC. They are cheaper than Texas State now, why tax our homes? Let the person who chooses to attend pay for it, if they have a problem with the cost, don’t go knocking on your neighbors door, they just financed the last twelve to thirteen years of your education. The 2008-2009 school year 39 students who graduated from SMCISD, enrolled at ACC the next fall semester, 120 started college elsewhere, hardly worthy of a perpetual tax on your homes and businesses.
    http://www.txhighereddata.org

  3. I support the ACC initiative. Gary Job Corps offers technical training programs. What will the addition of ACC bring to the community concerning technical job training?

  4. Barry I want the my portion of state taxes that helped subsidize your kid(s) education at a state unversity. After all “Let the person who chooses to attend pay for it, if they have a problem with the cost, don’t go knocking on your neighbors door, they just financed the last twelve to thirteen years of your education.”

    The fact that only 159 2008-9 SMCISD graduates attended college screams for the need for a more affordable altenative for local kids.

  5. Not all people need to or want to go to college. There are plenty of jobs available for people who do not choose to attend college. There are trades, skills the military, for hundreds of years people have gone on and lived successful meaningful lives without attending college. If you choose to attend college why is it up to your neighbors to pay for it? You are an adult, you made the decision of your own free will, no one forced you to attend college.
    ACC receives funding from State taxes just like all the other universities , they still charge upwards of $300 per hour, they just force through taxation other people to pay for it. I agree college is way overpriced you are not going to make it cheaper by taxing your neighbors property, only cheaper for you, in the short term.

  6. If SMCISD taxpayers want to spend more taxpayer money on education, it should be targeted to our youth right here in San Marcos in the K-4 grade range. That is where we will get the best ROI, investing more in K-4 education. That will improve our HS graduation rates, and it will improve the college/work preparedness of our HS graduates. Why should SMCISD taxpayers pay for all those Texas State students to be able to get cheap classes wtih ACC? Why should we ship over $3 million per year of more taxpayer money off to AUSTIN Community College, where we have no real say on how or where that money will be spent? Shouldn’t SMCISD taxpayers focus on SMCISD students?

  7. Thank you Mr. Sierra for such a well written and positive article in support of San Marcos entering the ACC system. I hope, like you, others will vote for annexation.
    I am especially glad to see that Mr. Harvey is supportive of early educational interventions and, I suppose increasing and using local tax dollars to do that. Even though there has been ample evidence that we have been in an educational crisis for more than two decades, its still nice to see him enter the fray.
    Unlike Mr. Gilardi, who as I understand it cannot vote in San Marcos, I think that the kinds of vocational and regular education classes offered by ACC will be a boon to the non-traditional student. By non-traditional student, I mean normal everyday working men and women for whom there aren’t any vocational or educational opportunities.

  8. Sicne it’s so very important to you Mr. Hernandez, I don’t think that Buda address qualifies you to vote either. Just setting the facts straight, not stalking.

  9. Barry get your facts straight. The only state aid to community colleges is assistance for health insurance for full time faculty and that is a sometimes (Perry line item vetoed this a couple of sessions ago).

  10. I am attaching the link for ACC’s next years budget. Fy 2010 ACC received, from State Appropriations $55,219,782.00.
    State Appropriation – Formula (Funds growth) 46,528,408
    State Appropriation – HEGI 8,191,374
    State Appropriation – VCT 500,000
    The HEGI is the health insurance you spoke of.
    The formula fund was the one I spoke about. Life is too short to figure out the formula but is per student, based on hours, classes types of classes etc.
    approved budget for 2010=$ 226,331,254.00
    As far as not being able to vote in San Marcos, you are correct I am in North Hays County. I am trying to inform as many people as I can about this upcoming election.
    The Taxing district you are supporting is in another County and City. I do not believe they can vote in this election either? But you support allowing them to tax our homes and businesses.
    They City Of Austin vastly outnumbers us, Hays County Residents, we will never have a voice in any future elections. I for one am not going to let Austin Taxpayers control a property tax on my home without a fight. Our property taxes are too high, that is with our own local control. How much higher can they go when we have no control?
    More info http://www.noacctax.com
    budget link
    http://www.austincc.edu/busdept/budget/OperBdgtBooks/FY11Boardapprovedbudgetagenda.pdf

  11. What kind of selfish, self-centered liberalism are we into these days! Where in the world do any of you get the opinion that it is OK to take money from me and give it to another adult in order to make their life easier. ACC obviously has not been concerned enough to drop their rates. Usually, businesses look at revenue minus expense equals income. Non-profit my foot; they still need to look at the first two items without annexation. They, through the likes of you, obviously do not need to consider this simple business formula!

    They rely on this “it is just $200/year” mentality to force everyone into KUMBAYA. This is just wrong! I do not wish to pay for able-bodied adults to go to a second-rate college. If these adults want an education, loans, grants, a JOB, and/or mommy can pay for it. This does not benefit the community in toto! We can never get out of the debt once in. Do you seriously think Hays residents in aggregate have enough votes to stymie ACC’s lack of fiscal prudence? They will continue to spend and continue to annex. We will eventually be paying for a district in El Paso(hyperbole). Alternatively, when they run out of annexation options (victims), the taxes must rise (UP TO ONE DOLLAR), not unlike a ponzi scheme.

    I do not support taxation of property to subsidize adults that have many other options available. They do not need an ACC Lone Star Card.

    DM

  12. I have never lived in Buda. So whoever this winchester dude or duddette really is you may not be a stalker, a coward yes, and you are also definitely wrong. But if you are a stalker you need more practice.

    I hope everyone reading this will vote for annexation. It’s a great opportunity for the people of San Marcos.

  13. The Only Steven A. Hernandez owning property in Hays County per the CAD and the County Clerk, lives in Buda. So, if that’s not our Mr. Hernandez, he doesn’t own property, hence will not be paying the taxes.

    Hermano, you started the who can vote where thread, and as your daddy should have taught you, get in a fight, expect to have your noes bloodied.

  14. As for the coward crack, no, just smart enough to not use my real name on the net.

    And personally, I still believe you live in Buda.

  15. Mr. Hernandez, I will save you the trouble of a rejoinder. Your attack on Mr. Gilardi, opened you up to the same scrutiny, and your name failed the test. Either you are the Steven A Hernandez in Buda, or you are not. If the former, you can not vote either, if the latter, you don’t own property, hence will not pay the tax, and your opinion should be viewed in that light. Or, Steven A Hernandez isn’t yur name, and you Sir are a hypocrite. Or, it is your name, and you do own property, in this case I give you the benifit of the doubt in all cases; so your property isn’t properly rendered for taxation, and you are a scofflaw.

  16. First of all you seem to possess a 22 caliber intellect in a 45 caliber world. How’s that for a rejoinder? I am not a hypocrite you however are acting like an idiot. Still not satisfied? How’s this, I am a voter with long familial ties in San Marcos.
    I suspect I may have hit a nerve with you because you seem to have put way more effort than one would reasonably expect. But then again you may be a stalker in training or just grossly incompetent.
    I find it odd that someone who may be normal would be worried that someone would waste time trying to get you. But then again you may be a delusional paranoid who knows about the old poster, “just cause you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they are not out to get you.”
    At any rate, Pea Shooter, you are nothing more than mere digital flotsam. Oh, and yes, you are still acting like a coward, bro.
    Your daddy, if he had bothered to stick around, should have taught you that a man stands up for what he believes.

    Which is why I hope others will stand up with me and vote for ACC annexation.

  17. The local power elite is trying to get our poor people to subsidize Texas State students so they can go get cheaper credit hours from ACC to transfer back to Texas State. Rather than impose a permanent new tax that does not directly benefit the people who would be paying the tax each year, how about we keep our local tax dollars local, where they can help local people and we have local control?

    It is really upsetting the ballot language says NOTHING about the fact that voting “yes” for ACC means voting “yes” for new taxes that must be paid each year forever with very little influence on what happens to all that money we’d be shipping to the AUSTIN Community College.

  18. Mr. Hernandez,

    It appears your daddy taught you how to milk the taxpayers to get what you want. You must have a “gold” lone star card with your support of transferring everyone else’s money to those that have not had the fiscal discipline to fund their ADULT future. Get a job. Work through school. It will mean much more and the success rate is infinitely higher than those who are subsidized by mommy’s, the fed’s, the state’s, or MY money.

    It appears all your daddy taught you is the direction to the hind teat. Still sleeping with mommy or are you just living off of her hard work? When you talk about cowardice to Winchester, seems you are typing in front of a mirror! Don’t let all of this rhetoric get you down, though; there is pleny of money available at your neighbors’ houses—just go knocking and see what the response is. This is the same deal. A .30-06 in your 45 caliber world.

    DM

  19. Good God, some of you people have resorted to ridiculous sniping. Get over yourselves.

    All of us with a job in San Marcos are subsidized by the educational establishment. Deal with it.

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