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

December 1st, 2010
ACC adds 28,000 square feet to Hays campus plan

Austin Community College officials say they have expanded plans for the North Hays County campus on FM 1626 (Kyle Parkway), which was originally announced as a $45.8 million, 72,000-square-foot project. Because a parallel annexation effort failed in San Marcos, the college district says the first phase of the Kyle campus will now encompass 100,000 square feet and cost $55.8 million. ARTISTS' RENDERING by GENSLER

CLARIFICATION: The story, “ACC adds 28,000 square feet to Hays campus plan”, incorrectly reported that tuition is $58 per semester credit hour for residents who live in the college district and $166 for out-of-district students. Those numbers reflect tuition plus fees, not tuition alone. The tuition rate, unchanged since May 2010, is $42 per semester credit hour for in-district students.

by JENNIFER BIUNDO

Less than a month after a successful annexation election, Austin Community College has announced plans to increase the proposed square footage and budget of the ACC Hays campus.

During the successful petition drive and election campaign to annex Hays CISD property into the community college taxing district, ACC officials promised to build a $45.8 million, 72,000-square-foot campus on 96 acres in Kyle’s Plum Creek development.

But in a letter last week to local ACC supporters Vince Collier and Terry Mazurek, and ACC President Stephen Kinslow announced that the new plans call for a $55.8 million, 100,000-square-foot campus. Construction is slated to start next year, with a target opening date of August 2013.

“I think the larger campus is going to greatly expand phase one’s ability to address the needs of our community that much sooner,” said Collier, who served as co-chair of the North Hays County Steering Committee to bring ACC to Hays.

The college district is under contract to pay $9.84 million for 96 acres in the commercial portion of the Plum Creek development in Kyle.

The new campus will have the capacity to serve about 2,000 students, said ACC spokesperson Alexis Patterson. Currently, about 1,000 Hays CISD residents take ACC classes either online, at local high schools or commuting to campuses in other counties.

The area saw a “tremendous outpouring of support” for ACC, Collier said. While Hays CISD residents approved the annexation measure by a comfortable margin of 58.45 percent of the 11,770 ballots cast, San Marcos voters soundly rejected joining the ACC taxing district. Voters in Bastrop and McDade ISDs also defeated the drive to join ACC, while only Elgin ISD joined Hays CISD in approving the ballot measure.

“The reason this campus is being made larger is because of the failure of the initiative in San Marcos and Bastrop,” Collier said. “It will enable them to spend more money here.”

In July, the college district contracted to buy 21 acres off Texas 123 in San Marcos pending the election outcome. The seller, Cottonwood Creek JDR Ltd., a Randall Morris company, also donated 51 acres where ACC San Marcos would have been built.

ACC currently assesses a property tax of 9.5 cents per $100 of property valuation, amounting to about $130 annually for a home valued at $150,000. However, the district offers a $120,000 exemption for residents who are disabled or are over the age of 65.

Following the annexation, Hays CISD residents registering for classes at ACC in the coming semester will get a break in tuition, paying $58 per credit hour rather than the out-of-district fee of $166.

Currently, Hays County is home to just one college, Texas State University, which serves a student body numbering more than 32,000. ACC will be the county’s first community college.

JEN BIUNDO is a reporter for the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the Mercury.

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