“Community college board lowers mill levy, tuition hike”

The following article appeared in the Johnson County Sun.

“Community college board lowers mill levy, tuition hike”
Elaine Bessier
Johnson County Sun

Johnson County Community College taxpayers will pay less for the college this year and students will pay less next year.

Taxpayers will pay less because the board trimmed the mill levy. Students will pay less because the board cut a tuition hike in half, from $2 to $1, starting in January.

The board cut the levy by .478 mills, from 9.428 to 8.960. This means the owner of an average Johnson County house, valued at $220,025, will pay about $227, or $1.65 less than this year, based on the lower levy. The bill would have been $239 if the board had not cut the levy.

The college last lowered the levy in 1999, from 7.746 to 7.184 mills. Since 2000, the levy has increased from 7.646 to 9.438 mills, or 23 percent.

Although lowering the levy, the board passed a $114,047,821 operating budget May 19. The budget is 6.9 percent greater than last year.

The college benefited from a decrease in the expected tax delinquency rate, from 4 to 3 percent. The college also anticipates an increase of 7.7 percent in state aid in 2005-06 compared to the previous fiscal year. The actual amount received may be adjusted by the Kansas Board of Regents.

The county also expects a 5.5 percent increase in property values with reassessment. The revenue from higher property values and projected tax revenue increases will help cover the college’s budget.

Enrollment, which had been projected to increase by 2 percent this year, increased by 6.2 percent.

“This community has always responded to the needs of the college,” board Chairwoman Elaine Perilla said. “When we ask them for support, the students and the taxpayers always say yes. Now that we have the opportunity to reduce the cost to them, we are happy to do so.”

The board is happy to make cuts, said Lynn Mitchelson, trustee and chairman of the finance committee.

“All of us are pleased to offer a budget of this quality and still have revenue to make some reductions,” Mitchelson said. “The trustees have been good stewards – when we can reduce the mill levy, we do so.”

Tuition, instead of increasing by $2 per credit hour, as announced in December, will drop by $1 for the spring semester. Under the new tuition plan, Johnson County residents will pay $63 per credit hour, $78 per credit hour for Kansas residents outside Johnson County and $144 per credit hour for non-residents.

An estimated 2 percent increase in student credit hours for the 2005-06 year resulted in the projected addition of 10 new staff positions, including six faculty positions to accommodate enrollment growth in business, mathematics, science, anthropology, psychology and reading. The four other new positions are in information services and admissions.

The new budget also includes a 3.5 percent salary increase starting July 1. Total compensation, including benefits, will increase 4.1 percent for that period.

This is the second year of a bargaining agreement between the college and the Faculty Association. The trustees approved a three-year rolling extension of the collective bargaining agreement with the Faculty Association.

The trustees will approve a legal budget in August.