Last year’s budget at Barton Community College was drastically reduced because of the pandemic, Dean of Administration Mark Dean said. The operational budget for Fiscal Year 22 increases revenue by $2 million and increases expenditures by $2.5 million or more over last year’s budget, depending on how much wages are increased.
Barton’s Board of Trustees held a study session Tuesday to review the budget options.
“This (proposed) budget restores most of everything we cut for last year,” Dean said. It includes a wage increase that addresses the challenges of finding and retaining staff.
“We can’t hire custodians, secretaries and security officers,” he said. “They can make more money going downtown and working for the big box stores.”
Trustees were shown three options for wage increases. One starts with 3% more for full- and part-time employees and 10% more for adjunct (that is, part-time) faculty. Adjunct teachers now make $600 per credit-hour and this would raise the rate to $660. They have not had a raise since 2016.
Dean also presented options for wage increases of 5% and 7% (keeping the 10% increase for adjunct faculty). The first option would increase total expenditures from $2.5 million to almost $2.8 million and the second option would increase the total to over $3 million.
“The budget includes new positions and replacement positions that we didn’t fill last year,” Dean said. It also anticipates a decrease in tuition and fees. If everything happens as predicted in the budget, the college will see a decrease in its cash reserves next year, ranging from $1.34 million to $1.86 million, depending on the wage increase. “This is anticipating that all positions are full.”
Sometimes the college has budgeted for a deficit but has come out ahead at the end of the year, Dean noted. “None of us know (what will happen). We just have to look at history and look at trends. ... I’m hoping enrollment will be better and expenses will be less.”
Board of Trustees Chairman Mike Johnson asked if a 5% wage increase would be enough to remain competitive.
“I think we should look at another option, a 10% salary increase,” he said.
Next on the agenda was the budget document that will be published in the Great Bend Tribune as a legal notice. The proposed published budget keeps the mill levy at approximately the same value as last year, which in turn increases the tax request by approximately $246,362.
Barton County’s estimated valuation increased this past year, mainly due to the recovery of oil and gas prices. The mill levy request is based on the valuation estimate provided by the county clerk on June 10.
The mill levy was 33.077 in 2019-2020 and 33.050 in 2020-2021. The proposed budget maintains the rate at 33.050 mills. This year, governing bodies are also looking at the Revenue Neutral Rate. Based on the valuation estimate, next year’s mill levy would need to drop to 32.328 to collect the same amount in tax dollars as last year, $8,759,789. The year before that the tax levied came to $9,169,643 and next year’s proposal estimates $8,969,702.
The published budget that was reviewed at Tuesday’s board study session sets the annual public budget hearing and a Revenue Neutral Rate public hearing for Aug. 24. These hearings will be held during the regular board meeting that starts at 4 p.m. in Room F-30, located on the lower level of the Fine Arts Building on campus.
The board will approve the operational budget and publication of the budget and hearing notices at its next business meeting, set for 4 p.m. on July 27.