DALLAS — The largest two-year state-supported technical college in Arkansas without local tax support will ask Pulaski County voters to create a taxing district.
The Board of Trustees of Pulaski Technical College voted unanimously Monday to ask the county election commission to set a July election on establishing the district. It would be contiguous with Pulaski County, which includes Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Many of the 12,000 students enrolled in the two-year technical community college live in adjacent Saline County, but the trustees limited the initial request to Pulaski County.
Revenue from the tax would finance operations and capital improvements.
School president Dan Bakke told the trustees the school needs $65 million of capital projects to meet its long-range goals, and $11.5 million for annual operations. Bakke presented a document detailing $65 million in one-time construction costs and $11.5 million in annual faculty and staffing needs at the college.
Pulaski Technical College’s debt is rated AA-plus with a negative outlook by Standard & Poor’s. The district issued $69.5 million of student tuition and fee revenue bonds in 2011
Sixteen community colleges in Arkansas are supported through either a sales tax of up to 0.375% or a property tax levy of up to 4 mills. Seven colleges, including Pulaski Tech, lack a local tax. Pulaski Tech and the others are funded through state appropriations and student tuition and fees. Pulaski County voters rejected a 0.125% sales tax for the college in 2002.
The school’s state aid has gone from $2.1 million when it was established in 1991 to $14.3 million in fiscal 2011, but has not kept up with growth.
As state revenues fell over the past few years, schools with enrollment increases have seen a decline in their per-student funding allocations.
In fiscal 2013, Pulaski Tech will receive 55% of the state aid that it should receive under the current funding formula.
The tuition increase is expected to generate an additional $1.5 million a year.
Trustee John Barnes said the potential property tax rate will not be determined until voters approve the taxing district’s creation. If the proposal passes at the July election, voters would be asked to approve a tax rate.