In my opinion, having the new Table Rock Campus of Ozarks Technical Community College available for everyone in the Tri-Lakes Area is one the best things to ever happen in our community.

The benefits such a campus provides for local college students are terrific and greatly fills a need that was only partially available in years past.

Voters in the Branson School District on April 7 will be able to go to the polls to decide if people who live within the Branson district will be able to take full advantage of those new opportunities.

The ballot question asks if residents of the Branson School District should “become a part of and be annexed to Ozarks Technical Community College ….. effective July 1, 2015. If this question is approved, the overall tax levy in the School District will increase by the Community College tax levy of $.15 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation and all residents of the School District will become eligible for reduced tuition at the in-district rate.”

As you have read in the pages of your newspaper recently, property taxes will go up in the Branson School District if the measure passes. But unlike many increased taxes that seem to provide only more cost and no improved services to taxpayers, the benefits of paying the higher taxes on this OTC question will be many.

First and foremost, Branson residents who attend OTC will save hundreds if not thousands on tuition. The credit hour currently for Branson residents is $142.50 but will go down to $95, the same rate Hollister residents pay since Hollister property owners already approved the OTC deal back in 2011. As you can see, any small tax increase on a Branson district home will be earned back with the savings from just one three-credit class at OTC.

Second, now with the joint agreement signed recently with Missouri State University, local students will be able to earn certain four-year degrees without leaving Taney or Stone counties to do so. That’s huge.

Thirdly, as OTC succeeds here on the Table Rock Campus, more and more programs will be developed on campus. Officials are looking at bringing in hospitality, landscaping, culinary arts and many more classes that will benefit many employers and residents in the Tri-Lakes Area.

As a property owner in Hollister, your newspaper has seen its property taxes go up to help support the OTC campus within the Hollister School District borders. It’s been money very well spent. It has been and will continue to be an excellent return on our investment.

Branson residents who go to the polls April 7 should weigh the facts related to the OTC question. We feel that if they do so, they will vote overwhelming in favor for the property tax increase, just as 75 percent of their neighbors did in Hollister a few years back.

It’s not every tax increase that allows taxpayers to start saving money as soon as the taxes go up, but this is one initiative that allows that. This is a good deal and Branson property owners should take it.

Thank you for reading the Branson Tri-Lakes News.

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