Cooke County Citizens for Better & Efficient Government

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 We support NCTC's mission and the good things they do for the area.  However; we question their financial management - see below.

Our web hosting provider is having some problems we

are working through.  Once we resolve those, we will post some more NCTC documents in support of the latest ad.

 

The 25% Tuition increase was a result of the NCTC Board voting on March 30, 2015 to raise Cooke County Tuition from $40 to $50 per credit hour which is a 25% increase.  The Board approved it unanimously according to the NCTC Minutes.

 

Link to NCTC Staff Recommendation to NCTC Board

Link to NCTC March 30, 2015 Minutes

 

The tax increase was voted on by the NCTC Board on multiple occasions, the last being on September 28, 2015.  The minutes show the vote was unanimous to raise the rate to .1213.  The minutes show a raise of 4.93%.  Based on the 2014 rate of .1095, we believe it is a 10.8% increase (.1213/.1095-1) * 100 to get a percentage.  Perhaps there is some new math or Texas tax law that is clouding how they did their calculation.

 

The board decided to increase the President’s salary to $220,000 on August 13, 2015 according the NCTC Board minutes for that date.  The vote was unanimous.  That was a $57,000 increase from his contract of the previous year.  See the NCTC Affordability tab for a link to that document.  According to the Final 2015-2016 Cooke County Budget posted on the Cooke County web site, the Sheriff was paid $56,578 for 2015.  His salary is $57,014 for 2016 per that same budget.  Therefor the $57,000 raise was larger than the Sheriff’s salary in 2015 and the $220,000 salary for the NCTC President is almost 4x the Sheriff’s salary. 

 

Link to NCTC August 13, 2015 minutes

Link to Cooke County Budget showing Sheriff salary in 2015 was $56,578.

 

As my son showed me, that is $22/student if it is coming out of their tuition if enrollment is 10,000 students.  Fall 2015 enrollment was 9576 students so it is almost $23 per student to pay the NCTC President’s salary.

 

Was it really fair to Cooke County to pass these excessive tax and tuition increases so the NCTC employees could receive a 6% raise and the President a 35% raise?  Perhaps 1 or 2% would have been OK and if that had been the case, you would not be seeing the ads on this issue. 

 

Is the NCTC President’s value to Cooke County really 4x what we pay the Sheriff to keep us safe?  I suspect most people would notice if the Sheriff was not doing his job long before they would know the NCTC President wasn’t doing his.  We are not saying he isn’t doing a good job outside of financial management and his statement at the Cooke County Eagles to the effect he plans to raise taxes every year.

 

How did these huge raises come about.  The only answer I have been given is they did a salary study to compare themselves to other community colleges.  If they are comparing salaries with colleges in a large Metroplex, I suspect they would have higher salaries because the cost of living is higher there.  Can you imagine how much Cooke County taxes would go up if the other taxing entities in Cooke County tried to raise their salaries to match what the pay if Dallas or Ft. Worth?

 

Enough is Enough!

 

Note: After the third bond election, we decided to sit back for a while with the hope that bond would satisfy NCTC's thirst for increased taxpayer funds.  Unfortunately, when they were selling the bond, they didn't tell us as soon as it passed, they would start raising the M&O tax rate by the maximum allowed by law that doesn't allow a rollback election.  In addition to raising taxes the maximum the last two years, NCTC has had excessive tuition and salary increases way beyond inflation.  It appears we have no conservative financial people on the NCTC Board watching out for the students and taxpayers of Cooke County.  Having spoken to the board with no success before the last tax increase, with taxes and tuition due this month, we thought it time to make the taxpayers aware why their bills have gone up so much.

 

How long can Cooke County continue to afford NCTC's huge tax increases, tuition and fee increases?

Since 2010 the cost per credit hour for Cooke County residents has risen from $46 to $70, a 52% increase.  They have also added a late fee of $10 per credit hour.  If you wait to pay for and register for classes the week before school starts, you pay $80 per credit hour with the $10 late fee per credit hour.  Compare that to the $42 hourly rate for tuition and fees in 2004.  NCTC only raised Cooke County tuition and fees by $4/hr. or 10% from 2004 to 2010.  11 years later, if you pay $80 with the late fee, your cost per credit hour has almost doubled compared to 2004-2005.

NCTC tax rates had been flat or decreased as a result of increasing property values for the most part from 2005 up until 2012.  Since 2012, the tax rate has increased from .0663 to .1213.  That is  an 83% increase which is getting close to double the rate we paid in 2012.  If NCTC continues to raise the M&O tax the maximum they can without being subject to a rollback election, the NCTC tax rate will double within the next two years, maybe in a year.  The bond issue raised the tax rate .0383.  That is 58% of the tax increase.  The other 25% of the 83% tax increase is a result of M&O tax increases and adjustments for the valuation of existing property. 

See NCTC Documents on NCTC Affordability Tab

What is NCTC doing with all that extra money paid by taxpayers and students?

 

NCTC has managed to give out raises annually, usually at least 3%.  This past year, NCTC gave out raises averaging 6%.

 

Apparently the staff did a salary survey and determined they were underpaid compared to similar junior colleges in the area.  Is there any surprise they determined they were underpaid if they did a salary survey?

 

The person who recommend all these tax, tuition, and salary increases to the board apparently felt a 6% raise wasn't enough.  President Wallace apparently presented a recommendation that his salary should be raised from the salary he agreed to when hired on August 1, 2014 of $163,000 to $220,000 a year later.  The board approved the 35% raise without any recorded dissent.  Considering he was just promoted from VP to president in 2014, it appears his salary has doubled in about a year.

 

See NCTC Affordability Tab for supporting documentation from NCTC

 

Dr. Wallace came and spoke at the Republican Eagles meeting in the summer of 2015.  He was asked about tax increases.  He tried to deflect it and say it was a board decision.  Having spent six years on that board, I know they rarely if ever raise taxes without a recommendation from the administration.  I asked him what his recommendation would be.  He said where he came from they raise taxes every year.

We believe that government should be dedicated to providing honest, ethical, efficient and quality services to the people they serve and that elected them. 

 

While taxes are a necessary part of our system of government, too often government officials are not as concerned about conserving taxpayer money as they are their own.  We think government officials should provide taxpayers the best possible value as public servants and not spend taxpayer money like they had a windfall or won the lottery. When tax revenues go up, we believe that good governments should lower their tax rates vs. try to find a way to spend all the money they take in.  If a governmental body decides they need to raise taxes, it should only be as a last resort and they should be ready and willing to defend their decisions, openly and honestly to those they represent.

While a lot of people focus on the problems of the federal government and there are a lot of problems there, our  ability to make changes at the federal level are challenging at best.  We choose to focus on local governments where elections can be decided by as few as 1 vote or 100 votes.  We also believe that state and federal representatives are often elected from a pool of local officials.  We think if the local officials we know represent our values here, there is a better chance when they go on to higher office, they will maintain those values in representing us.

 

 

 

We believe our Elected Officials of Cooke County should be of the highest ethical standards.  They should embrace the conservative philosophies of  Strong Law Enforcement & Families, Low Taxes & Modern, Efficient Government, and encourage Economic Development while Preserving our Way of Life.

 

We further believe we are Taxed Enough Already.  Local Government agencies and officials should work to lower taxes to increase the attractiveness of the community to businesses considering moving in the area.  In most cases there is plenty of money to go around if they would limit public employee salaries when combined with benefits to what the private sector is paying .  Furthermore, we don't need any more monuments built for elected officials and public sector employees to work in.  We should focus on doing what is best for the County infrastructure and will have the most benefit for the County as a whole vs. a few privileged elected officials and administrators.

 

We believe in full disclosure.  We call on all Cooke County Government agencies to post their current and proposed detailed budgets on the web plus the salaries and bonus plans of the top five employees in the organization.  We call on all Cooke County Government agencies to post their agendas along with all other non-confidential documents they will consider at their posted meetings at least 72 hours before the meeting so all citizens know not only they are looking at a salary plan but that they are looking at a million dollar salary increase.

 

To demonstrate our commitment to integrity,   Steve Gaylord made an offer in 2008 regarding NCTC.  He offered to contribute $500 to the favorite charity of the first person who could prove he had knowingly and materially misrepresented a fact about NCTC in writing or a prepared statement.  Steve Gaylord renewed this offer this Fall at an NCTC Board Meeting, through November 8, 2011.  So far in more than six years, no one has applied. 

 

Steve Gaylord is now extending the above offer to Valley View ISD for January - May 2013 to the charity of the first person who can prove he has knowingly and materially misrepresented a fact about VVISD in writing or a prepared statement.  We reserve the right to make corrections for unknown errors once they are brought to our attention.  We will continue to do our best to avoid making any factual errors.

 

Lawyers & legal fees are excluded as there is no commitment to pay unlimited legal fees should there be a disagreement.  

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Pol. Ad paid for by www.cookecitizens.org, Steve Gaylord, Treasurer