The Barton Community College administration has saved taxpayers a bundle this year by recommending a budget that does not increase the mill levy. Because oil valuations dropped, a 33.124 mill levy – last year’s tax rate – will bring in fewer dollars this year — a cut of nearly $900,000.
Now, the administration could easily have recommended a smaller budget cut, and trustees may have agreed to it. Earlier in the year, it seemed inevitable that some kind of mill levy increase would be necessary.
Tax increases aren’t always the worst thing that can happen. BCC made its cuts by reducing expenses, raising tuition, and creating and marketing programs that led to increased enrollment. Kudos! At some point, though, cuts become counter-productive. There are buildings to maintain, students to teach and services to offer.
Other governmental entities are also working on their budgets. Council members, commissioners and board members have input on these decisions, but many expenses are locked in. Therefore, elected or appointed board members ultimately look to administrators to make recommendations in the best interest of their stakeholders.
It should be noted that entities that “hold the line” on mill levies have been realizing automatic tax increases for years. The price of oil went above $100 a barrel in 2008, but did anyone reduce the mill levy accordingly? Property values have also risen, and continue to do so.
Still, we appreciate the work that went into the BCC budget, and hope others will try to follow the college’s example — to the extent that they can do so responsibly.