CNCC grapples with budget cuts caused by tax decreases

Advertisement

A decrease in property tax and state-allocated revenues has forced the Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig campus to cut back, but not in ways students will notice.

"Anything that's happening is not affecting the students," Vice President Dean Hollenbeck said. "We've been very cautious about that."

Cuts have been made in staffing -- by not refilling positions when an employee leaves or retires -- technology spending and in start-up funds for new programs.

Other expenditures have been bolstered -- using money from the college's $317,800 reserve to do so, which will leave a little more than $250,000 remaining.

"There are no easy answers," Hollenbeck said. "The big thing is local property taxes are going down, which is no different than the school district or the county."

State funding for the Craig campus is offset by a 3.017 local mill levy, which supports local programming. That revenue is estimated to decrease by about $70,000.

The college is anticipating $992,200 in revenue and has budgeted $1,503,000 in expenditures. A beginning fund balance of $200,000 and funds from the college's reserves will offset the difference.

Heading into its second year, the CNCC nursing program has doubled, increasing the cost to the college 37 percent.

CNCC Board of Control members also agreed to dig into reserves to continue the 100 percent tuition scholarship program for Moffat County residents, increasing the subsidy from $540,000 to $625,000.

To reduce the strain on the college's reserves, Hollenbeck presented the board with three different budget scenarios, each decreasing the amount the college would offset tuition for residents.

Board members weren't willing to jeopardize the number of full-time students -- which is up 8 percent this year -- by decreasing a subsidy they feel directly contributed to that increase.

Board member Link Derick said that as long as the tuition assistance program was increasing the number of students, it would be considered successful.

But the 2004-2005 budget may be the last that includes 100 percent tuition assistance. According to Hollenbeck, the board has agreed to decrease that to 75 percent in the 2005-2006 budget so as not to dig further into reserves that are being set aside for facility expansion.

"The board wanted to give the community plenty of notice," Hollenbeck said. "Even at 75 percent, that's still the best buy in the state of Colorado."

The board also agreed to put $250,000 into a campus expansion reserve.

"It's still very important to the board that we look at new facilities down the road," Hollenbeck said.

There is a statewide freeze on capital construction dollars for higher education and Hollenbeck said there's no telling when that will end considering the state's current budget troubles.

Colorado Northwestern Community College's state funding was reduced by $450,000 this year to $4.1 million. That funding is used for operations and maintenance costs for all the CNCC campuses and the cut means the closure of CNCC offices in Hayden and Meeker. Those towns will still have access to local classes, but the administration will be handled through the Craig office, eliminating several lease costs incurred by the college.

"Everything we're trying to do the students aren't going to notice," Hollenbeck said.

"We've got challenges in front of us for the next couple of years and we're not alone.

All colleges across the state are facing the same situation."

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.