ACC regents approve budget, keep tax rate same
Alvin Community College regents voted 4-3 with two abstentions to approve the annual Maintenance and Operations Budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year and 7-2 to keep last year’s tax rate during a regular meeting on Aug. 26.
The revised 2010-2011 budget of $24,510,968 represents a 3.8 percent increase over last year and includes funds for new positions and expenses to address growth and changing of one library part-time position to full-time. According to ACC President Dr. Rodney Allbright, the college is facing record enrollment again this semester with an estimated 5,800 students registered.
The new budget also provides the annual salary step for faculty and staff and a 2 percent increase for part-time personnel and employees who have over 15 years of service and are not eligible for additional step increases.
The M&O Budget is funded by three main sources, including state appropriations, local tax revenues and tuition and fees. This year, however, ACC has had to deal with reductions in two of the main sources.
Despite enrollment increases at many community colleges throughout Texas, the state mandated that all higher education institutions plan for a 5 percent decrease in funding each year until 2012.
The net taxable property values in Brazoria County declined, as well. In July, the Brazoria County Appraisal District (BCAD) approved the net taxable value of the district at $5,832,070,085, which is approximately 2.2 percent less than 2009’s value.
Each year, the BCAD sets an effective tax rate based on the certified net taxable value of the district that would provide the same level of funds as the year before. When the net taxable value increases, the effective tax rate typically decreases and vice versa.
The ACC board has the option to stay with the effective tax rate set by the BCAD, raise it after providing justification and opportunities for citizen input or lower it. Despite the effective tax rate being higher to make up for lower values, a majority of ACC board members agreed to lower the effective tax rate in order to keep the college district’s tax rate the same at .199830 per $100 valuation as last year. ACC’s tax rate includes the debt service of .024963 for the new Science/Health Science Building.
ACC Board Vice Chair James “Bart” DeWitt made an amendment to a motion to use the BCAD’s effective tax rate, which would have raised the college’s tax rate just over a cent, but the amended motion failed 4-5.
“What happens when you start lowering your tax rate and your district evaluation is going down and your enrollment is going up, you’re going to hit a brick wall in a year or two if you don’t go with the higher rate,” DeWitt stated.
In other matters, regents tabled voting on a new partnership agreement between the University of Houston-Clear Lake and four other community colleges, including College of the Mainland, Galveston College, Lee College and the San Jacinto College District until some wording could be changed in the agreement.
During the next Texas legislative session in 2011, UHCL will be requesting authority from the state to provide freshman and sophomore courses, which will impact area community colleges that offer those courses.
According to the agreement, UHCL and the five area community colleges desire to establish “a partnership that maximizes educational opportunities for all students and utilizes taxpayer resources in the most efficient and effective manner.”
The institutions have agreed to work toward: increasing college graduation rates; educating students on the benefits of earning two years of coursework at a community college before transferring to a university for a bachelor’s degree; addressing critical shortages of students pursuing careers in math, science and other fields; developing joint degree programs for high demand fields; implement reverse transfer agreements for the individual area community colleges and more.
In return, UHCL will guarantee admission to students with an associate degree earned at the area community colleges who meet minimum requirements, acceptance of up to 60 transfer credit hours for students who meet minimum requirements, award scholarships to Honors Program graduates who also meet minimum requirements and encourage joint admission of students at a community college and UHCL.
“They (UHCL) are really working hard (to support community college students),” Regent Karlis Ercums, III, said. “I like this agreement; I think it’s great.”
During the meeting, board members also approved: annual review of the College Investment Plan; audited fund balance for 2008-2009 of $403,252, which will be used to create a fund to offset the anticipated further reduction in state funding next year; purchase of a simulator for the Associate Degree Nursing Program through a state grant in the amount of $58,801; several personnel matters; financial report ending July 2010 and the check register.