Paris Junior College currently serves a five county area and has one of the smallest taxing districts in the state of Texas. The area Paris Junior College serves is approximately 3,848 square miles while their taxing district is approximately 44 square miles. Only 1.14% of Paris Junior College’s service area pays taxes in support of the college. PJC has two satellite campuses, one in Sulphur Springs and one in Greenville, in addition to their main campus in Paris. In the 2014-2015 school year 8,643 students were enrolled at PJC with a 22:1 student teacher ratio. Also in the 2014-2015 academic school year, 1,029 associate degrees and certificates were awarded.
Why is this an issue?
The Paris Junior College Board of Regents met on Monday, June 27, 2016 to discuss the upcoming November annexation election. In the November annexation election, registered voters will vote county by county on whether or not their county will become a part of the PJC taxing district. The tax would impact property owners at a rate of .10 per $100 assessed property value. So if your property was assessed to be worth $50,000 the monthly tax would be $4.17 and the yearly tax would be $50. The average Texas community college tax rate is $0.17546 per $100 assessed property value. Paris Junior College is currently funded by state reimbursement for student contact hours, which is 29% of the cost of instruction, tuition and fees paid by students, and property taxes paid by property owners within the City of Paris and the old Cunningham ISD.
What will happen if the service area is annexed?
Once the decision for your county is made, property owners in the newly annexed territory will begin paying property taxes in Fall 2017. Several actions must be completed in order for the territory to officially become part of the district. The votes will first be canvassed and the results will be “certified”. The Board of Regents will then pass a resolution amending it’s boundaries, that will change tuition rates for the new in-district residents for the 2017-2018 school year. Property owners will then begin paying property taxes. The Board of Regents provides a $10,000 property tax exemption to homeowners 65 and over to help offset the possibility of property tax increases among those living on fixed incomes. With annexation, the college will enact a property freeze for those 65 and older.
The positives in the redistricting plan all lie with the perspective of the property owners. For some the tax will benefit their children or even themselves. The traditional In-District tuition rate compared to the Out-of-District rate is significant to some. Tuition and fees for 30 semester credit hours for an Out-of-District student is $3,600, while tuition and fees for an In-District student is $2,250. Also, tuition rates for Dual-Credit courses are lower for In-District students. In 2016-2017, students residing within the taxing district pay $55 per semester credit hour and students residing outside the taxing district pay $100 per semester credit hour.
Annexation will secure the long-term future of Paris Junior College. With the support from the new district, new workforce programs will be implemented as well as career and technical education for high school students through dual-credit.
What will happen if annexation is unsuccessful?
The current way Paris Junior College is funded will not sustain the college over the long-term, the state cut funding per full-time equivalent student with the anticipation that more of the financial burden to be passed on locally. Without a tax base, tuition and fees for students will increase and students will not be able to bear the cost. There will be possible reduction of services and possible closure by Texas Legislation in the next legislative session.
Who can vote?
All registered voters living in the following school districts who do not live in the current Paris Junior College taxing district may vote in the November, 2016 election: Bland, Boles, Caddo Mills, Campbell, Celeste, Chisum, Clarksville, Commerce, Cooper, Cumby, Detroit, Fannindel, Greenville, Honey Grove, Lone Oak, Miller Grove, North Hopkins, North Lamar, Prairiland, Quinlan-Ford, Rivercrest, Roxton, Sulphur Bluff, Sulphur Springs, and Wolfe City.