Funds to grow talent pipeline and expand in-demand programs
The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously approved a $770 million general obligation bond for the November 2022 ballot. If voters approve the bond, funds will go directly to projects in communities across Central Texas that expand training capacity for high-demand fields such as health care and advanced manufacturing. It would also include new sites in southeast and southwest Travis County.
“We have taken a thorough and thoughtful approach to develop a bond that can solve some of our community’s most urgent workforce challenges. Austin’s fast-paced growth has created a huge need for homegrown talent to fill high-skilled, well-paying jobs,” says Dr. Nan McRaven, ACC Board of Trustees chair. “The Board has heard from our regional community advisors and organizations across Central Texas and they recommended we move forward with this bond package. The Board is confident this bond will provide what our community needs with no increase in the tax rate.”
ACC is the largest trainer of the Central Texas workforce, serving approximately 70,000 students each year. The college has earned a national reputation for innovation and academic excellence and has the fastest-growing graduation rate among its peer colleges. Nearly 80% of ACC graduates live and work in the Austin area. On average, ACC graduates increase their income by 45 percent within five years of graduation.
“Education is the key to upward mobility and our community looks to ACC as the region’s primary workforce-training engine and the primary access point for individuals to achieve their career goals and be able to afford to live here,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC chancellor. “It is important that this bond remain inclusive of every region and every campus. This bond ensures the college can regionalize programs and services so everyone has the training they need no matter where you live in the district.”
Affordability remains a primary concern for the college as it issues the 2022 bond proposal. At $770 million, the college is able to issue bonds without raising its tax rate. Since property values are expected to increase, the college estimates that at its current tax rate, a taxpayer with a home worth $500,000 would pay up to $5 per year over the first five years, maxing out at $25/year for the remainder of the bond.
Seniors (age 65+) and residents with disabilities would see no tax increase as a result of this bond program. In 2021, the ACC Board of Trustees adopted a tax ceiling (freeze) for seniors and residents with disabilities.
The final estimated tax impact of the bond proposition for a standard homestead would be as listed in the table below. The college continues to offer generous exemptions for senior citizens and residents with disabilities.
|Year||Standard Homestead ($500,000 Home Value)|
PROJECTS BY REGION
Trustees began planning for the election earlier this year and received feedback from the college’s Regional Advisory Committees. The committees presented a list of projects they considered urgent after months of study. Trustees balanced that knowledge with the advice of the administration to identify the best bond proposal for the November ballot.
The bond package includes projects in each region of the ACC District (north, central, and south). It provides new construction and campus upgrades to support programs that require hands-on training and expands student support services, such as child care and student health services.
- North Region includes communities in Round Rock, Leander, Cedar Park, and North Austin.
- Central Region includes communities in Central and East Austin, Elgin, and Manor.
- South Region includes communities in South Austin, Southwest Austin, Hays County, and Del Valle.
Specific projects of the package include the following:
|SOUTH REGION||TOTAL||PROGRAM FOCUS|
|Southeast Travis County||$200 million||State-of-the-art campus for Advanced Manufacturing and Skilled Trades, including Welding, Automotive Technology, and Building Construction Technology, along with General Education classrooms and Student Services.|
|Hays||$100 million||Health Sciences | Significant expansion including Professional Nursing and other programs|
|Pinnacle||$75 million||General Education | Computer Science, Business, and Health Care Offerings|
|Riverside||$10 million||Expansion of Student Services | Childcare, Student Health Services & Modernization of Campus Technology|
|South Austin||$5 million||Expansion of Student Services | Childcare, Student Health Services & Modernization of Campus Technology|
|CENTRAL REGION||TOTAL||PROGRAM FOCUS|
|Rio Grande||$40 million||Expansion of Computer Science | Cyber Security Program|
|Highland||$100 million||Expansion of Advanced Manufacturing, implementation of Entrepreneurship Institute, Cyber Security|
|Eastview||$15 million||Expansion of Health Sciences and of student services | Childcare, Student Health Services & Modernization of Campus Technology|
|Elgin||$25 million||New skilled trades building for welding and advanced manufacturing|
|NORTH REGION||TOTAL||PROGRAM FOCUS|
|Round Rock||$75 million||Expansion of Skilled Trades, Advanced Manufacturing, and Health Sciences|
|Cypress Creek||$80 million||Expansion of IT|
|Northridge||$15 million||Expansion of Business & Continuing Education and of student services | Childcare, Student Health Services & Modernization of Campus Technology|
|San Gabriel||$30 million||Skilled Trades and Advanced Manufacturing|
The 2022 bond projects support and expand the work already underway across the district to improve existing campuses including its Riverside and Eastview campuses.
This will be the college’s third ever bond election — the most recent of which was in 2014 when voters approved $385 million in bonds. Projects in the 2014 G.O. bond included the construction of ACC Highland Phase 2, development of the Hays Campus Public Safety Training Center, historical renovations to the Rio Grande Campus main building, an expansion of the Round Rock Campus, construction of Elgin Campus Phase 2, land banking in Southeast Travis County for a future workforce education center, and multiple campus renovations. Those projects were completed on time and within budget.
CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTING STANDARDS RESOLUTION
Should voters approve the proposed 2022 bond, Trustees also proactively approved a resolution regarding construction contracting standards for the 2022 bond program.
ACC has long required workers’ compensation coverage for construction contractors and has also adopted the federal Davis-Bacon wage rate as its prevailing wage rate. As part of its 2014 bond, Trustees adopted additional construction wages and workforce condition requirements, including a living wage floor, local hiring goal, OSHA safety training, and independent, on-site monitoring, making the college one of the first political subdivisions in Central Texas to adopt such requirements.
The new resolution ensures that future general obligation bonds continue to support the creation of good, safe construction jobs in the Central Texas region and requires all subcontractors to abide by the following:
- Have workers’ compensation coverage;
- Ensure OSHA-10 certification for all workers on-site, and OSHA-30 certification for all safety supervisors on site;
- Pay living wages, defined as the higher of ACC’s minimum wage rate or the prevailing wage rate as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor in accordance with the Davis-Bacon Act (40 U.S.C. Section 276a et seq.) and its subsequent amendments;
- Make reasonable efforts to achieve a 15% local hiring goal, meaning 15% of all cumulative work hours on bond projects are performed by students or graduates of ACC, or an apprenticeship program registered with the U.S. Department of Labor or bilingual craft training program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor that provides hands-on training at nominal cost; and
- Comply fully with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
The college is developing a 2022 Bond website and a series of community conversations to keep constituents informed. Additional information will be announced later this month.
The bond referendum will be open to taxpayers who reside within the ACC Taxing District — City of Austin, Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, Elgin ISD, Hays CISD, Leander ISD, Manor ISD, and Round Rock ISD.