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Steady growth possible with fiscally responsible proposition

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232 Views
Dr. Warren Nichols
President, College of the Mainland

Voters living within the Dickinson, Hitchcock, Santa Fe and Texas City school districts will see Proposition A on the ballot regarding the refinancing of College of the Mainland’s (COM) maintenance tax notes. This proposition is critically important to supporting student programing and the overall financial sustainability of COM’s programing now and in the years to come.

You may recall back in 2018, voters approved a $162 million general obligation bond that funded the construction of our new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), administration and industrial careers buildings. This time marked an inspiring opportunity for us to witness the start of the priceless investment that our community has committed toward the continued growth and innovation at COM. 

However, back in 2017 when I arrived at COM, I immediately noticed that the campus faced many pressing facilities concerns that required immediate repair. At that time, the college sold our maintenance tax bonds to address those important, time-sensitive repairs across campus including replacing the underground piping, repairing the fine arts building roof, and remodeling the chemistry lab, gym and student center.

Although the original intent was to roll these funds into the 2018 bond, we were unable to do so due to new specifications required by the attorney general. Accordingly, COM has been paying for these repairs out of our operations budget since that time. We are now looking to recoup our operations budget through Proposition A where those funds will essentially be reallocated from the college’s operations budget to its debt repayment budget at a lower interest rate.

It was always our intention to take this action as part of our master plan. Now is time to roll that funding back into our operations budget due to historically low interest rates. Current rates will allow COM to decrease our interest rate from 4 to as low as 1 percent. 

When casting your ballot there are several important details about the proposition that voters should know:

  • Tuition will not go up. College of the Mainland has the third lowest tuition cost in the state of Texas and does not have any plans on raising tuition costs. 
  • If the proposition is approved, there would be 1 cent added to the interest and sinking (I&S) tax rate. With a tax exemption, a home valued at $200,000 would see an impact of roughly $16 annually. This is still below the 11.7 cents promised during the 2018 bond election, and the college does not plan on ever exceeding that rate.
  • The proposition allows COM to take advantage of the market’s historically low interest rates by exchanging its existing higher-interest maintenance tax note for a lower-interest rate.
  • With voter approval, the proposition could decrease COM’s interest rate from 4 to as low as 1 percent.
  • The proposition would save the college nearly $250,000 per year in interest.

With voter approval, the interest savings will allow COM to reallocate that money back toward student programs. With many new program on the horizon, such as the new accelerated associates degree, mechanical and chemical engineering degrees and Bachelor of Science in nursing, this proposition is critical to supporting our mission to cultivating student success through a variety of innovative learning opportunities for those that we serve. To learn more about the proposition, please visit vote.com.edu. 

Dr. Warren Nichols

President, College of the Mainland

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