Ranger tax annexation debated during mayoral candidate forum

The first question posed to Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes involved his support of legislation enabling the Ranger College tax annexation election, where more than 90 percent of voters rejected a proposal that would have annexed Brown County into Ranger’s taxing district, thus creating another layer of property taxes on local residents.

That election, which took place last November, was made possible by legislation supported by Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes.

In defending his support of the legislation, while opposing the annexation, Mayor Haynes said there were a lot of promises made when that legislation passed that never came to fruition.

“At the time that I testified in support of that legislation, the rate that was being proposed was 5 cents, not 11 cents, and not 42 cents,” Haynes said. “Ranger was telling me that we would have control of the board, and by virtue of having control of the board, we’d have control of the tax rate. They said they were moving their headquarters down here, which would mean jobs. It meant big infrastructure and lots of students.

“Fast forward four years, there was no discussion about control of the board, there was no plans for a campus, and there were no promises of jobs and no promises of students. So, I did not support that position.”

Mike Tittle, former 3M plant manager who is challenging Haynes in his bid for re-election, told a crowd of approximately 100 people that he was opposed to all annexation.

“Annexation is always wrong,” Tittle said. “Any type of county wide annexation will hurt our factories, which will hurt our jobs and hurt our citizens. So, I will always be opposed to Ranger annexation.”

Haynes and Tittle are campaigning for Mayor of Brownwood, a post Haynes has held since first being elected in 2010. During the forum, hosted at the Brownwood Country Club Friday by the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce, the two debated Brownwood’s debt, and spending levels.

Haynes told the crowd that spending has increased this year less than 1.6 percent, which is less than state and federal spending increases. Tittle pointed out that Brownwood’s city expenditures have increased $5 million over the past six years.

Tittle told the crowd that Brownwood has record-high debt. Haynes countered by saying that Brownwood’s debt service was less than 10 percent of the budget.

Election day for the Brownwood mayoral election will be Saturday, May 5.