Paying off certificates of participation issued in 2013 and selling new certificates at a lower interest rate will save Barton Community College about $1.4 million in the coming years, Barton Vice President of Administration Mark Dean said. The BCC Board of Trustees met Tuesday and approved a resolution to make that possible.
The resolution authorizes "the offering for sale of lease-purchase agreement refunding certificates of participation." Outstanding Series 2013 Certificates for about $4.76 million will be replaced with 2021 certificates. The college will also use about $1 million of its cash reserves to pay down some of the debt.
“Overall, it will save about $1.4 million and reduce the years of payoff by about five years,” Dean told the trustees. He said there is sufficient money in reserve for the approximate $1 million paydown. Without paying down the principal, the lower interest on new certificates would still save the college $750,000 to $800,000, he estimated.
Dean also told the board that the college has an A+ credit rating from Standard & Poor.
Heather Morgan, executive director of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees, gave a presentation on the latest state and national news affecting community colleges.
“We’re watching what is happening with ‘free college,’ which is not free, in Washington, D.C.,” Morgan said. The details of the federal proposals are sketchy at best and have changed over the last three months. However, the details that have been shared are “highly concerning from a transparency, operations and logistics standpoint,” she reported. If the “Free Community College” plan is adopted this year, it will be done in the reconciliation bill.
Besides the philosophical argument that it would cost all taxpayers something and therefore is not free, Morgan said the proposal only covers tuition and fees. "Students (who think they’re getting a free ride) will be surprised when they get a bill for (extra) fees, books and program supplies," she said.
“High School students won’t qualify for this,” Morgan added. The program could actually lower the number of students who now pick up college credits in high school.
“It’s structured a lot like Medicaid expansion, which Kansas has not opted into, either,” Morgan added. The plan as proposed requires a state match for tuition but does not allow for local property tax dollars to be counted as the state match. In Kansas, community colleges are funded 60% by local property taxes. Also, in Kansas and many other states, community colleges are governed by local boards and not the state. KACCT opposes the government dictating anything that could impact the local governance of community colleges, whether intended or not.
KACCT’s position is that increasing the federal Pell Grants for all students is a much better solution, she reported.
In other business Tuesday, the following new personnel were approved by BCC trustees: Emmanuel Dixon and James Isaac IV, assistant track and cross country coaches; Darren Ivey, director Library & College Archives (a contract position); Lucia Palacio, custodian; and Cecelia Nicolet, Bookstore manager. All positions are on the Barton County campus.