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Lone Star College System announces reduced tax rate for 2013-14

HOUSTON (Sept.11, 2013) – The Lone Star College System Board of Trustees approved a decrease in the property tax rate to 11.60 cents per $100 property evaluation for the 2013-14 tax year, a 3 percent decrease from the previous year.

“We are pleased to be in the position to reduce the tax rate which will benefit LSCS taxpayers,” said Dr. Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor. “Lone Star College System is committed to providing a first class education while keeping costs in line. This reduction for 2013-14 is the sixth time in the last 10 years that the board has lowered the property tax rate for LSCS taxpayers.”

Board members approved the recommendation to lower the tax rate at the regular board meeting on Sept. 5.

The tax rate drops to 11.60 cents per $100 property valuation from the previous level of 11.98 cents per $100 property valuation. A LSCS homeowner with a house valued at $100,000 would pay $116 annually in taxes based on the new tax rate, compared to $120 previously (not including any exemptions which would lower the taxes further.)

Taxes are frozen for disabled residents and those over 65 years of age residing in the LSCS service area as part of the system’s $75,000 property tax exemption and tax freeze, where the actual dollar amount owed is frozen as of the date the taxpayer qualifies for the exemption – even if the property value increases.

“It is our responsibility as members of the Lone Star College System board to make sure this organization is as efficient as possible, with dollars being invested only in necessary operations and projects,” said David Holsey, chair of the LSCS board. “I’m proud to say that the administrative cost at LSCS under Dr. Carpenter’s tenure has dropped several times in the last few years as a percentage of the total budget and is now one of the lowest of all community colleges.

“As this area grows, our tax base grows and the first consideration is ‘how much of a tax savings could we pass along to residents who live in the LSCS service area?’” Holsey said.

The lower tax rate for LSCS homeowners is possible because the overall property tax base in Harris and Montgomery counties was higher than the prior year, said Cindy Gilliam, LSCS vice chancellor, administration and finance/CFO.

“$2.92 billion in new taxable properties were added in the LSCS service area in 2012,” Gilliam said. “The economic improvement within our service area resulted in a significant increase in the number of new properties added to the tax rolls.” LSCS also reduced the tax rate last year as well.

Gilliam noted that the new tax rate of 11.60 cents includes an operating tax rate of 8.25 cents, which is a 4.4 percent reduction from the previous year. The remainder of the 11.60 cents will be used for annual principal and interest payments on voter-approved bonds (debt service tax rate). The debt service tax rate was reduced in 2007 and has remained at 3.35 cents from that point forward.

“This year is no exception,” said Gilliam. “In fact, our debt service tax rate is lower today than it was 15 years ago.”

And during that time period, LSCS issued more than $630 million in new general obligation bonds and added 3.9 million square feet of space as a result, which represents 79 percent of all LSCS square footage. This expansion was in direct response to increased community demand to meet the needs of a 200 percent increase in student enrollment, adding an additional 55,000 students during the same time period.

“The operating tax rate has been reduced numerous times as well – which points to the efficiencies in place at Lone Star College System,” she said.

Lone Star College System has been opening doors to a better community for 40 years. Founded in 1973, LSCS remains steadfast in its commitment to student success and credential completion. Today, with 78,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and the fastest-growing community college system in the nation. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball and LSC-University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.