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

January 27th, 2011
ACC’s ace-in-a-hole

Austin Community College Hays will be built on 96 acres east of Kyle Parkway in the commercial portion of the Plum Creek development. Construction preparations may be back on track after ACC successfully stymied a lawsuit filed by Kyle dentist Ray Wolbrecht challenging election results. PHOTO by SEAN KIMMONS


A lawsuit challenging Austin Community College’s entry into Hays County could die on a technicality, following a judge’s ruling that plaintiff Ray Wolbrecht must come up with a $3 million bond within ten days to keep the suit in motion.

“It’s nothing but a tactical ploy under a very unfair and absurd law,” said Wolbrecht’s attorney, Billy McNabb. “It’s going to kill the Wolbrecht lawsuit.”

After Hays CISD voters approved the annexation measure at the November polls, Wolbrecht filed an election contest suit against ACC on December 10, arguing that the college failed to accurately inform voters of the full tax impact they could face after annexation, as required by law.

ACC attorneys responded by filing a bond validation lawsuit in Travis County on Dec. 22, seeking to affirm the expanded boundaries of the taxing district and approve a debt issuance to get the funds to start construction of a new campus in Kyle.

With the bond validation suit in place, on Jan. 7 ACC attorneys successfully asked Travis County District Judge Rhonda Hurley to consolidate the two lawsuits. The next week, ACC also successfully asked that Wolbrecht be required to put up a $3 million bond to continue the suit.

“The reason he will have to provide such security is to cover any damages or increased costs to ACC and its taxpayers caused by his continued participation in the case, which would have the effect of delaying further the issuance of the debt needed to construct the Hays Campus,” said ACC attorney Cobby Caputo in a written statement.

ACC has blamed Wolbrecht’s lawsuit for causing the school to miss out on more than $20 million in interest reduction from the federal Build America Bond program, which provides federally subsidized low-interest loans to governmental agencies. The program expired at the end of 2010, just three weeks after Wolbrecht filed suit.

McNabb called the ruling “absurd” and said his client would challenge it at the appellate level.

“You took an entirely different type of lawsuit and had it consolidated with the bond validation suit,” McNabb said. “Mr. Wolbrecht is on the wrong side of a one-sided law that’s going to kill the merits of his lawsuit before we even get to it.”

ACC has announced plans to construct a $55.8 million, 100,000-square-foot campus in Kyle’s Plum Creek Development, with a target opening date of August, 2013. However, college officials recently stated that the loss of the Build America Bond interest reduction could result in a smaller campus scaled back by about $7 million.

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

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8 thoughts on “ACC’s ace-in-a-hole

  1. I never thought Wolbrecht’s case was very strong. He was going to have to prove that ACC deliberately hid the tax issue from Hays voters. That wasn’t true, it was public information as are all public community college tax rates and ceilings. All the while holding back the campus that Hays voters approved.

    It’s amazing to me how some have made this issue into personal vendettas.

  2. Does this draw comparisons to the Health Care debacle? Spend millions to increase the deficit by billions to stop the savings of billions or is it trillions? We will get our way even at the expense of others (lives)?

  3. I guess by public information Aaron means it is located in the education code of the Texas statutes. Maybe he has a copy of it on his coffee table in his living room but I’m sure most of us don’t. But wait it’s too large and would crush the table due to the weight. For those of us that don’t have a copy the maximum rate is one dollar which is a long way from the nine cents ACC talks about. With the cuts coming in the state budget the rate ACC charges surely will change along with the city and county.

    ACC was required by law to publish the maximum tax rate in their annexation plan before putting it on the ballot. Instead of letting the courts hear the merits of Wolbrecht’s case which would be problematic for them they are attempting to bury it. If that is not the case why not just have a hearing on the facts and let a judge decide?

  4. I don’t know the law, but the change looks like a legal “gimmick” to me. I wonder if it will survive appeal.

  5. Speaking of legal gimmicks and irony…

    Citizens Advocating Responsible Education

    San Marcos attorney Andrew Gary, who is representing the organization, is also its treasurer. Listed as “contribution decision makers” and “expenditure decision makers” in documents provided by Gary are Lon Shell, Lupe Carbajal, Lamar Hankins, Dave Bethancourt and Billy McNabb. McNabb is Gary’s co-counsel in the action.

    That was a snippet from a San Marcos Record article on 09/10/2010 when CARE was doing their best to intimidate people from making public all the facts around ACC being brought to San Marcos by filing frivilous lawsuits against our mayor and others…and are they still at it indirectly with McNabb leading the pack this time?

    My 8-year-old daughter and a friend of hers helped us protest at the Capitol for Health Care Reform last year. When grown men started shouting nasty explicatives and racial slurs from across the street, the two girls started shouting back, “You are all big babies, you wear big, baby diapers. You want your mommies.” I find it very apropros to this situation.

  6. “I guess by public information Aaron means it is located in the education code of the Texas statutes. Maybe he has a copy of it on his coffee table in his living room but I’m sure most of us don’t.”

    Concerned, Texas Association of Community Colleges publishes all state CC district rates. That link took me 45 seconds to find. Do you SERIOUSLY think ACC is going to charge the state maximum of $1.00 per $100?

    NO community college in the state charges anything close to that. The average is .14 or .15, the highest is .26. Those districts with rates above .20 are that high because the property valuations are very low, ie: Del Mar. At .95 per $100, ACC is 43rd out of 50 districts.

    Voters should be responsible for their own information. No one should have thought a community college would be free, although San Marcos is now charging me more per month for recycling than the ACC would have cost.

  7. Seriously, you’d think educating our high school graduates so they can be competitive in the workforce or transfer to university is some sort of crime.

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