Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ozarks make me proud

Based on the average cost of an education at OTC I can't fathom why tax monies are needed to fund the education of students. I have a son enrolled at OTC and heavens knows his education is costing us quite dearly.
Universities like government can't keep coming to the taxpayers in their time of need, do what hard working Americans do DO WITHOUT IF NEEDED.

Voters reject OTC tax

Proposal loses by substantial margin across the Ozarks.

Steve Koehler

Voters refused Tuesday to give Ozarks Technical Community College any more money.

They overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to raise the tax rate a total of 12 cents over three years and infuse the school's operating budget with an extra $5 million to expand and develop programs that are in high demand.

As a result of the defeat, school officials said a tuition increase and enrollment caps are likely.

"I do understand why people would vote against it. I know a tuition increase will come up in the future," said Ashley Rowan, OTC's student body president. "It disheartens me that we can't satisfy the student's need and can't staff programs."

OTC President Hal Higdon said self-imposed enrollment caps were already in place because of a lack of money to hire more faculty.

"We had to turn 434 students away from allied health programs," he said. "That's about 400 dreams dashed."

Going forward, Higdon hopes to attract new school districts to join the OTC district. Adding new districts would raise the total assessed valuation for OTC and bring in more tax revenue. Students, in turn, pay in-district tuition.

Raising more private money is also an option, Higdon said. He plans to spend the next year educating area residents about the 17-year-old college.

"I'll be working day and night informing the public about what their community college is," he said. "It's a learning curve. The longer the school is here, the more success we will have and people will have an opportunity to see what we do."

Unofficial election results from 14 school districts in eight counties show the referendum lost 14,601 to 5,633. Only 9 percent of registered Greene County voters went to the polls.

The increase would have cost the owner of a house assessed at $100,000 an extra $22 a year.

Among the dozen or so voters surveyed Tuesday, some reported struggling with a love-hate relationship: They loved the school but hated the tax increase.

"I love OTC and I think it's a wonderful college but I'm not certain the money was needed," said David Kolarik of Springfield who voted against the hike. "I'm not an expert, but it's a tax increase."

Roy Hardy, of Springfield, has taken classes at OTC but was against the tax referendum.

"I voted very rationally. I voted no," he said. "They are going to find their funding by raising tuition. I'd rather they go that route. I'm looking at what will benefit me, not everybody else's kid."

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