Although Texas State students contribute significantly to the city’s overall economic profits, the university should consider creating an additional fee to compensate for the absence of property taxes collected from campus.
According to a Jan. 16 University Star article, the university does not have to pay property taxes to the city, county or school district because of its status as a state institution. San Marcos obtains most of its funds for improvements through property taxes, and the current state of the economy has left the city struggling for these resources. According to the same article, the city would receive $7.4 million from the university if it were not exempt from paying property taxes.
To make up for this lack of funding, Texas State officials could require students to pay a small fee to support basic city operations such as infrastructure and transportation services. There are many students who utilize the services and facilities provided by the city on a daily basis. The university opting to add a minor tuition fee under $10 with the goal of supporting city operations should not be a large issue for students overall.
San Marcos would have a greater pot of funding for community projects if all the estimated 34,225 Texas State students paid an additional $5 fee with tuition to aid the city. Students would benefit directly through environmental, infrastructure and collaborative projects between the city and university through the use of these added funds. The city has had a historic disconnect between residents and students over the years. This added fee would allow students to make a direct impact on the city they live and work in. They would see better improvements as a result.
Texas State students bring their own financial benefits to San Marcos. The median resident age in Hays County is 23.1, according to city-data.com. The city would likely lose much of its business and would be far less prosperous if not for the Texas State students who live in San Marcos and shop locally. The spending power students bring is a vital component to the city, and many retail stores may not have decided to build in San Marcos at all without this component.
Without the profits Texas State students bring to the community, it is hard to imagine the condition San Marcos would be in financially. For example, Texas State alumni Seth and Chase Katz opened a local business called Dos Gatos in June of 2009 and opened Zelicks Icehouse two years later in May. Dos Gatos and Zelicks are still thriving today on business from students and residents stopping in to grab a kolache or socialize with friends over a few drinks.
There are other ways that the university currently pays the city back, even disregarding the strong spending power students bring to San Marcos. According to the same Jan. 16 University Star article, there are certain circumstances in which the university has to share costs with the city. Bill Nance, vice president for Finance and Support Services, said Texas State financially compensates the city for half of the salary earned by the city habitat conservation plan manager. The job manages environmental problems affecting the river, which profits both Texas State and the city. Texas State officials can expand upon these collaborative projects to aid the city in additional ways since students have such a huge impact both economically and population-wise.
San Marcos may struggle to secure financial resources, but the city still greatly benefits from the economic growth the university and students bring to the community. Texas State officials should consider adding a small $5 fee to tuition to further support San Marcos’ operations that, in turn, directly benefit students.