After a week of anticipation, Northeast Texas Community College received the news last Wednesday that it had been waiting to hear – the provisional ballots had helped pass Proposition Two by only four votes. The proposition authorizes the college to issue $19.9 million in bonds. However, because Proposition One, which would have lifted the ten cent tax cap, failed by 327 votes on Nov. 4, the college has no way to handle the bond debt.
“This leaves the college with the authority to issue bonds, but no way to pay them back,” NTCC President Dr. Brad Johnson said.
During their regular meeting on Tuesday night, the board canvassed the election results. There was no further discussion regarding the mixed election outcome other than when Board President Dr. Dan McCauley called for the canvas and said, “We don’t have to like it, but we can’t not approve it.”
The voting tallies for Proposition One were: Camp County 1,034 in favor, 1,141 opposed; Morris County 1,223 in favor, 1,407 opposed, and Titus County 2,262 in favor, and 2,298 opposed.
Proposition Two election numbers were: Camp County 1,045 in favor, 1,136 against; Morris County 1,272 in favor, 1,360 against; and Titus County 2,377 in favor, 2,194 against.
The evening of Nov. 4 started out rocky when results from early voting were not what supporters of the bond were hoping for. A small group gathered in the Whatley foyer for what they hoped would be a victory party. Instead they learned quickly that Prop One was in trouble from the start. The measure failed in both Camp and Morris County in early voting, but passed in Titus County by 51.2 percent. After the Election Day results came in, the final voting totals indicated that Proposition One failed with 49.2 percent of the vote while Proposition Two passed with 51.6 percent.
The day after the election, however, the Mt. Pleasant Daily Tribune reported that there had been a “discrepancy in the figures.” Because of conflicting numbers reported by Titus County’s Election Office and Morris County’s counting machine, several votes for Proposition Two remained in question, as well as some provisional and overseas ballots. In a statement issued on Nov. 12, the college announced that the proposition had passed by four votes. Yet, without the money provided from the tax increase entailed in Prop. One, Northeast can’t implement the planned improvements to the campus.
“You can’t execute the plan without both propositions,” Johnson said.
Though Prop. One did not pass, there are those in the community who are adamant in their support going forward. “The college absolutely needs this, and those of us who recognize the importance of NTCC to this community stand ready to help again,” Mary Katherine Milam, Friends of NTCC director, said. “If the college decides to try again, I am confident we will succeed the next time.”
The next opportunity to put Proposition One back on the ballot won’t be until May 2015. “If we have learned anything from this election, it is that every single vote counts,” Johnson said. “We are very pleased that voters in our district have approved Proposition Two.”
Johnson said the board will be discussing how they plan to move forward and what actions to take in the future. “We are getting feedback from the community that Proposition One was confusing and unclear to voters,” Johnson said. “Our board will be addressing this soon and we will evaluate the next steps. Ultimately, our goal is to come up with a plan that addresses our campus needs in a way that our district is comfortable with and can stand behind.”