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Navarro College tax hits roadblock

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Pitts, Cook help fend off effort
The Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - Navarro College officials were determined to get Ellis County to adopt a property tax earlier this year.

That is, until they met with state Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie and Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana.

Navarro's recent attempt - the college based in Corsicana tried getting voters here to adopt a property tax in 1999 and 2004 - to have Pitts and Cook carry legislation that would allow the school to grab a slice of revenue from Ellis County's tax base fell short, all of this in conjunction with Navarro College President Dick Sanchez admitting that his board of trustees - which are elected by Navarro County voters - broke open meetings laws to discuss the tax options.

'Let me tell you. I don't represent Ellis County,' Cook said before an audience after a Navarro College school board meeting earlier this year.

'If somebody tried to impose a tax on people of my district, I'm going to fight them.'

Pitts, who has served Ellis County as District 10's representative since 1992, was equally adamant about opposing Navarro's attempts.

'If Cook carries [legislation allowing a Navarro College tax], I'm going to fight it,' Pitts told Cook during a recent 'Navarro County Day' in Austin, as first reported by the Corsicana Daily Sun.

Cook said Pitts was approached first about authoring legislation that would allow Navarro to impose a property tax, or maintenance tax, on property owners to pay for campuses in Ellis County and their expansion.

By law, Navarro serves several counties, including Ellis and has campuses in Waxahachie and Midlothian.

Midlothian's campus was paid for by revenue bonds which Midlothian voters approved several years ago.

Navarro's agreement to pay off the bonds in exchange for Midlothian voters' approval was the clincher.

To date, Navarro County voters, who directly elect their college's school board, have voted down bond proposals and tax increases. Cook chided the college publicly for failure to disclose financial matters relating to Ellis County's campuses.

'I love the college, and I'm going to do everything I can to help them, but the college has got to do things right. They have to do things right,' Cook later told the Corsicana Daily Sun.

'I've asked them to have transparency in their financial disclosure. Right now they have a consolidated financial statement, which means ... you will not have a clue how the money is being spent.

'I told them at that time that it was extraordinarily important that the college starts having financial reports that have true transparency where taxpayers in Ellis County who have questions, and the taxpayers in Navarro County and Limestone (County) ... they have a right to know.'

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