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Navarro College could annex into Ellis County

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The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE - Navarro College could annex into Ellis County and tax residents here without having to secure petition signatures to force the issue on the ballot, if a bill in the state legislature college officials support is successful.

In 1999, Ellis County voters defeated the college's first annexation proposal by a margin of almost 3-to-1, and at the time, Navarro College President Dr. Richard Sanchez said there would be a future attempt to come back to voters.

Community college districts, Sanchez said, are 'constrained financially,' and cannot keep up with increasing enrollments and costs. The annexation bill would, according to Sanchez, help districts provide educational services to students by receiving additional tax revenue from the five-county service area the college serves.

This bill received unanimous support from the [junior college] presidents association last year,' Sanchez said. 'So yes, we do support this bill.'

Sanchez said his college district is financed by Navarro

County taxpayers, not the other four counties in their service area - the only district in the state to have only one county finance the entire service area.

'We're the only one [college district] in the state that pays taxes,' he said.

College districts are given specific geographic areas designated by the state legislature; Navarro services Ellis, Leon, Limestone and Freestone counties.

The tax rate Navarro College levies is $0.14 per $100 of home valuation. A homeowner with a house valued at $100,000 would pay an additional $140 a year, if an annexation was successful.

And exemptions for senior citizens do not apply to special districts, such as hospital or colleges.

Sanchez said if Ellis County residents were to adopt a new tax, students here wouldn't pay out-of-district tuition and fees.

Voters here would also be able to elect members to the college's board of trustees, which resembles a regular school board.

'Navarro College tries to provide adequate services based [on what we can afford],' Sanchez said.

This reporter attended the Waxahachie campus last fall, and many students and some teachers blamed Ellis County taxpayers for not approving the annexation plan, therefore causing area students to have to pay more for a college 10 minutes away.

Sanchez said the board of trustees did not know about the new bills, but would update them about it at the next meeting.

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