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BCC trustees OK budget
College mill levy to remain the same
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Barton Community College Trustees meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton Community College Trustees did Tuesday evening:

• Approved the fiscal year 2019 operating budget. Also, the budget was approved for publiction.

• Was provided an update on the college’s strategic planning efforts. The plan covers 2016-2020.

• Heard a monitoring report on contingency planning.

• Approved BCC’s athletic insurance policies for the upcoming year.

• Approved personnel changes.

• Heard a report on the activities of college President Carl Heilman.

 When looking at the Barton Community College operational budget for fiscal year 2019, the Board of Trustees had three options, the only difference between the three being the size of a campus-wide salary increase to give employees.

But, with choices ranging from a 2.5 percent raise to 4.5 percent raise, the trustees had to balance giving staff more with the myriad uncertainties clouding the college’s budget picture this upcoming year. 

“If we had a crystal ball, it sure would help us,” Trustee Tricia Reiser said.

“There are a lot of unknowns out there,” board Chairman Mike Johnson added.

In the end, the board took the middle ground option and went with a 3.5 percent increase. The only dissenting vote came from Trustee Don Learned who passionately lobbied for the full 4.5 percent.

“I’m just embarrassed,” he said of BCC’s salaries being lower in some cases than local school districts. “I think we can afford it. We need to say we do appreciate you financially.”

Other trustees said there was no doubt the board is proud of the staff and that working at the college had perks that primary and secondary teaching postions don’t have. But, the current political and funding climate warrants caution.

It was noted that about 90 percent of BCC employees fall in the “mid” range of the compensation scale for college personnel. The goal is to have everyone at that level.

The operational budget

According to information presented to trustees, under option approved, the budget decreases revenue by $33,585 and increases expenditures by $130,676 over last year’s operational budget. The budget was developed assuming flat enrollment for Fiscal Year 2019.

Trustees were advised that the college ended Fiscal Year 2018 by using $103,000 from its cash reserves. This was due to a reduction in tuition and fees collected, increased accounts receivable, and a decrease in tax revenue that was actually collected.

However, the ending balance of cash reserves as a percentage of cash within the general fund ended up at 51.6 percent.

One of the biggest changes in new budget is that revenue from tuition and fees is estimated at $13,474,000, which is $308,317 less than the previous year. This is not due to a change in credit hours, but to an increase in scholarship offerings. The next budget also increases the budget for wages. 

Other increases include $200,000 for information technology, $150,000 for restroom renovations; $120,000 for increased online advertising; and $90,000 more for academics.  

So, in order to meet the new budget, the college is tapping $1.571 million from reserves. To make sure the reserves aren’t depleted too much, college President Carl Heilman had advised that if the total taken topped $1.5 million some of the planned improvements should be cut to make up the difference.

But, in approving the budget, trustees said they would revisit the fiscal situation mid year to see if cuts need to be made or if additional pay incentives can be offered. 

Published budget

Following the approval of the operational budget, the board OKed the published budget. The next step for the budget will be a public hearing at 4 p.m. Aug. 14 in room F-30 of the Fine Arts Building on campus.  

In a nutshell, BCC officials plan to publish a 2018-2019 budget that keeps the mill levy the same as last year, according to Vice President of Administration Mark Dean. 

College officials noted that the tax rate has varied by less than 1 mill for the past 10 years, with a low of 32.6 in 2008 to a high just under 33.5 in 2007.

The amount of 2018 tax to be levied is $8,847,310, compared to $8,583,706 in 2017 and $8,083,163 in 2016.

The operational budget is the budget the college uses and operates on all year, Dean said. This budget has line by line budget amounts for every department on campus and updates are given to the trustees monthly. 

The published budget requests tax dollars, and set upper limits on all of the college funds (general, post-secondary, auxiliary, etc.). This is a state budget form that the college completes.  

The operational and published budgets tie together at end of the year, Dean said. However the budgeted amounts in the published budget are maximum amounts we can spend in each fund. 

The published budget keeps the mill levy the same as last year and the request for tax dollars is more than last year’s request, Dean said. The estimated tax rate is again 33.219 mills and the increase in tax dollars is due to increased valuations, based on the numbers provided by the Barton County on June 21.

The valuation went from $258 million last year to $266 million this year, primarily from real estate, and oil and gas properties, Dean said.

Since a mill equals $1 in taxation for every $1,000 in valuation, this means $263,000 more for the college, he said. The valuation is based on the total assessed value of residential, commercial, oil and gas leases and ag land within the county.

But, he said, there is a caveat. 

Sure, the valuation increased, but some property owners will contest what they own and some won’t even pay. So, the total valuation hike may be lower that estimated.

College officials note that the tax rate has varied by less than 1 mill for the past 10 years, with a low of 32.6 in 2008 to a high just under 33.5 in 2007.

The amount of 2018 tax to be levied is $8,847,310, compared to $8,583,706 in 2017 and $8,083,163 in 2016.