Vernon College president meets with Wichita Co. Commissioners Court over new tax proposal

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WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Vernon College officials are working to get a potential tax proposal on one of the next ballots in November or next May.

Two years ago, Vernon College announced a plan to bring a branch campus maintenance tax to Wichita County.

After the pandemic halted their plans, officials managed to discuss the plan today with Wichita County Commissioners.

Since 1970, Vernon College has been serving areas of North Texas like Wilbarger County, where its central campus is, and Wichita County.

While almost 70% of the college’s students live in Wichita County, those students pay $40 more per credit hour than Wilbarger County students because they are out of district. But if the branch campus maintenance tax is approved by voters, that could change.

“Vernon College does a lot for the workforce and for students who are trying to get into education,” Vernon College president Dr. Dusty Johnston said. “We want to continue to do that, but we want to even do more, and we want to do it more affordable. And one of the ways we can do that is get a little support from the community.”

The tax proposal would be 5 cents per $100 of property valuation for Wichita County residents. That would help tuition rates for Wichita County residents and give free dual credit courses to high schoolers in Wichita County.

“We want to be there, we have to be there. We went there to increase enrollment, so we enjoy that enrollment that we have over there,” Dr. Johnston said. “And after 45 years, we have a significant investment in facilities, faculty, and the whole nine yards.”

The Wichita County Commissioners Court can approve to put the proposal on the ballot. Dr. Johnston says the school is still deciding whether to put it in the November or May election.

County Judge Woody Gossom said with the WFISD bond adding to taxes, and the county looking to increase the tax rate, voters may not approve this proposal if it’s in the election.

“It’s kind of like that last straw on the camel’s back. Eventually, it starts choking people,” Gossum said. “They’ve got a good public steering committee that’s trying to promote this, so we’ll see as things develop.”

“No one wants to pay more taxes, I fully understand that. I’m a taxpayer,” Dr. Johnston said. “We just wanna be sure that we continue to serve these people, but we also wanna look at ways to make it more affordable so we can expand who gets to come.”

Vernon College is looking for some help from taxpayers to keep serving their students.

You can find more information about the tax proposal process in the PDF below:

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