The management of Tarrant County College’s budget and $825 million bond divided three candidates vying for the district’s board of trustees.
Newcomers Laura Pritchett and Jack Reynolds and incumbent Bill Greenhill discussed how they view the role of TCC board member during a March 30 forum at Texas A&M University Law School in downtown Fort Worth. Nonpartisan nonprofits Fort Worth Report, KERA and SteerFW hosted the forum.
Election Day is May 6. Early voting begins April 24 and ends May 2. The last day to register to vote is April 6.
The three candidates are vying for a four-year term to represent TCC District 4, which includes west Fort Worth, Azle, Haslet, Watauga, North Richland Hills and Haltom City.
Greenhill, a three-term trustee and a lawyer, emphasized TCC’s transparency on fiscal issues. The board reviews the budget twice a month during its meetings, the incumbent said. He also noted the college’s web site provides detailed updates on the bond voters approved in 2019.
“You talk about visibility and this is totally visible,” Greenhill said.
Pritchett, who has worked in technology sales for the past 25 years, described managing TCC’s more than $396.6 million budget as not a science but an art. She said trustees have to understand all lines in the budget and ensure they are aligned with the college’s needs.
Administration costs are overinflated in the current budget, she said. The 2022-23 budget allocated nearly $92.4 million for general administration and student services. The 2021-22 budget dedicated $83 million for the same expenditure.
Pritchett also called for greater accountability over the 2019 bond.
“How are they (trustees) going to address the approaching $1 billion of our money that is not being properly handled by construction services?” she said. “That is an excellent question that I would be asking as a trustee.”
Reynolds, a former TCC economics professor, criticized TCC trustees for approving a tax rate for the 2022-23 budget that raised more property tax revenue than the previous year.
TCC’s tax rate is 13 cents per $100 of property valuation, the same rate levied in the 2021-22 budget. While the rate stayed the same, TCC will bring in almost an additional $26.3 million in property tax revenue.
The average home in TCC has a taxable value of $282,855. That homeowner’s property tax bill to TCC would be $368.19 — $37.44 more than the previous year’s bill of $330.75.
“This is not sustainable,” Reynolds said. “They have a thirst that can never be quenched.”
Candidate’s former TCC job
Tension between Reynolds and Greenhill flared during the forum.
Reynolds accused TCC of not giving him his right to due process when he filed a grievance over the college’s hiring practices, which he said favored people of color. Reynolds eventually resigned from his TCC job, he said.
“There is no due process rights happening here. They don’t even bother having a conversation about it,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds attempted to withdraw his resignation, he said. TCC does not allow employees to rescind a resignation once it has been accepted, according to district officials. Reynolds filed a complaint alleging TCC would not rehire him because he is white, Greenhill said. Greenhill emphasized Reynolds’ claim was not true.
TCC has a process for complaints that, if appealed, the board of trustees will hear. The board heard Reynolds’ complaint at its meeting on Feb. 17, 2022.
Greenhiill said trustees have three options for complaints: Affirm, send it back in the complaint process or do nothing.
“It went through due process,” Greenhill told the Fort Worth Report, adding it can take a long time. “We relied upon the arguments that were made before us, and we didn’t do anything.”
A fourth District 4 candidate, Larry Dale Carpenter Jr., did not attend the forum.
The District 5 seat on the TCC board is on the ballot, too. Incumbent Leonard Hornsby and challenger Nikki Stroba are vying to represent the district that covers south Arlington and Mansfield. Neither Hornsby nor Stroba attended the forum.
Editor’s note: This story was updated April 3, 2023, to clarify candidate Jack Reynolds’ employment at Tarrant County College. He resigned and attempted to rescind his decision, he said. The college has a procedure barring employees from rescinding resignations, according to district officials.
Disclosure: Bill Greenhill has been a financial supporter of the Fort Worth Report. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.