Barton Community College has kept its mill levy virtually unchanged for 12 years, Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said. The tax rate has stayed around 33 mills, causing the amount collected to fluctuate as property valuations went up or down.
At a BCC Board of Trustees study session last Tuesday, Vice President of Administration Mark Dean explained how a new law, Senate Bill 13, limits any additional tax revenue unless a publication process is followed. If a budget is not “revenue neutral,” the taxing entity (in this case, the college) must notify the county clerk and taxpayers will be sent a postcard notifying them of a public comment period.
“That doesn’t prevent the board from making a change on the mill levy,” Dean explained. “The board could vote not to be revenue neutral.”
The same rules apply to townships, library boards, the county and cities, Dean noted. “The catch is, you don’t want to be the only one on the card.”
“For the last 12 years the mill levy has stayed steady,” Heilman told the trustees. “If you continue to do that, you’re going to be sending out postcards every year.”
SB 13 has also changed the date by which the board must turn in its tax request, Dean said. The county is supposed to notify the college of the estimated valuations by June 15.
Dean said he expects there will be a net increase of $5,000 in taxes at the current mill levy, mostly because the oil valuation was $23 last year and is now $38.
Tuesday’s report was described as a “very preliminary” budget summary for next year. It includes an additional $911,094 for salaries plus an additional $135,000 for benefits.
“That includes (restoring) positions that we had cut out last year that we intend to fill this year,” as well as some new positions, Dean said.
The preliminary budget also includes between $3.6 million and nearly $4.1 million for additional items.
“I guarantee you, not all of these things will be funded,” Dean said. Items on the list:
• $730,997 to $1,130,000 to increase the salary budget for regular wages by 3-6% and for adjunct instructors by 10%
• $1,726,000 more for facilities
• $600,200 more for athletic requests
• $539,294 more for academics
• $16,500 more for student support
• $55,000 more for public relations
Potential challenges to plan for, in addition to property taxes, include an anticipated decrease in on-campus enrollment, resulting in decreased revenue from tuition and fees. Dean noted that federal COVID-19 relief dollars are restricted to specific uses and 50% of the dollars must be refunded directly to the students.
Dean said the budget summary also shows a $680,495 increase in state aid but added, “it’s not an actual increase in state aid. Last year we were told there would be a cut, so we budgeted in a 10% cut.” The planned reduction for Fiscal Year 21 did not occur.
The bottom line for the preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 22 anticipates:
• $31,854,706 total revenue, $983,995 more than FY-21
• $33,094,829 total expenses, $1,311,349 more than FY-21
• Resulting is expenditures exceeding revenue by $1,240,124