College budget approved

Trustees avoid tax hike

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Despite an ongoing bud-get crunch affecting both K-12 and higher education funding, Allen County Community College trustees expect to be able to avoid a property tax hike for the upcoming school year.
Trustees, at their monthly meeting Thursday, approved for publication the college’s 2009-10 spending plan and set a hearing for 6 p.m. Aug. 13 for public feedback.
The $15.2 million budget includes authority for the college to expend $11.75 million from its general fund, of which about $1.2 million will be raised through local property taxes.
An additional $320,000 will be generated locally for ACCC’s capital outlay fund, with its 3.5-mill tax rate. The general fund levy is set at 13.341, virtually identical to 2008-09.
The college’s combined tax levy is pegged at about 16.84 mills. Last year’s levy was 16.83 mills. The levy may change slightly in the fall once the county’s final assessed valuation figures are determined.
That means the owner of a $100,000 home will pay about $193 in property taxes to support the college. The figure does not include taxes in support of school districts, cities or townships.
The college was able to absorb cuts in state aid without the property tax hike with a slightly higher tuition rate — up $3 per credit hour to $47 this year — and transfers from ACCC’s cash reserves.
Allen County also is able to mitigate the loss in state funding because its enrollment continues to increase, explained Randy Weber, ACCC’s dean of student affairs.
Weber cited grants available to all Allen Countians to attend school at ACCC, as well as the college’s affordable tuition. Both have led to a significant increase in on-campus enrollment for summer sessions as well as the upcoming fall semester.
Weber expected the college’s online enrollment figures to increase as well, while enrollment at the college’s outreach center in Burlingame to remain static.
John Masterson, college president, noted that ACCC’s tuition fees are less than a quarter of those for students attending the University of Kansas, and less than half of those for Fort Hays State University, the state’s least-expensive Kansas Board of Regents university.
“It wasn’t that long ago that ACCC’s tuition was about half of KU’s,” Masterson said.

TRUSTEES, following an executive session to discuss negotiations with the college’s teachers union, approved a tentative negotiated agreement for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.
The board is offering a two-year package that includes an $800 increase in base salary for 2009-10 and another $500 for 2010-11, as well as an increase of $25 both years for medical insurance premiums. The agreement would include a $500 stipend for each college employee if the college enrollment is up 4 percent for the fall semester, and another $250 if the spring semester enrollment is up 4 percent.
The agreement has been presented to the teachers for their ratification.

STEVE TROXEL, vice president for finance and operations, said remodeling work at Winter and Horton halls and the college duplexes should be complete by the end of the month, with all rooms ready for occupancy by Aug. 10.
He’s not as optimistic that upgrades to the school’s chemistry lab will be completed on time, however.
“My feeling is this should have been done,” Troxel said. “It’s been a slow process.”
Troxel suggested the board consider alternative plans for chemistry classes if the room is not ready for the fall semester.
In a related matter, trustees approved a total of $59,675.13 for change orders affecting the student housing upgrades.
“That’s not necessarily a surprise,” Troxel said. About half of the cost — $28,604.06 — is in the form of sales taxes, Troxel said, because A.B. Bradley Construction of Shawnee, the general contractor, was unable to acquire a sales tax exemption.
Troxel noted the project is still within its budget. He anticipated more change orders for the trustees’ approval in August, totaling another $20,000.
“Part of the reason for the change orders is because the workers have uncovered other things while they worked,” Troxel said.

TRUSTEES approved the hiring of April Sherry as an administrative assistant for the Burlingame campus and Jastin Flenory as an assistant women’s basketball coach and a staff support services employee. Trustees accepted the resignation of Sondra Dubowsky, biology instructor.
Trustees also approved dues of $14,613.50 to remain a part of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees, and $995 to remain a part of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development. The KACCT dues are higher than in years past, trustees noted, in part because ACCC’s enrollment continues to increase.
The college declined to continue its affiliation with the Kansas Small Business Development Center, which would have cost $10,567.86.
Several organizational measures were approved to mark the official start of the 2009-10 year. Trustee Jenny Spillman was re-elected as board chairman and Harvey Rogers as vice chairman. Troxel was reappointed as board clerk.
Trustees are seeking a replacement for Bob Talkington, who is stepping down as college attorney after more than 40 years of service. Letters to attorneys in the county were mailed last week, Masterson said.
Thursday’s meeting marked the first for Neal Barclay, who replaces Loren Korte on the college board.