GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - The budgetary prospects for Colorado Mountain College are looking a little slim for the coming year, according to a recent presentation to the college board of trustees.
Finance officer Linda English told the trustees last week that the school's enrollment is down by an additional 400 students this year, continuing a decline that began at least three years ago.
In the 2010-2011 school year, she explained, there were 3,747 students enrolled in the college programs. That dropped to about 3,600 in 2011-2012, and to roughly 3,300 projected in the current year, with a consequent loss of tuition revenues of about $1 million.
According to English, the college finance office projects that property tax revenues from oil and gas interests will be down by 30 percent, and that property tax revenues overall will be off by a range from as little as 5 percent to as much as 25 percent.
To reflect those losses in revenues, she said, the college has projected $39.5 million in overall property tax receipts, $9.7 million in tuition payments, $5.9 million in state funds, and roughly $2.4 million from other sources, for a total of $57.5 million in revenues for the coming fiscal year.
A memo from the college's budget review committee noted that the amount of tax revenues the college will receive will not be known until late December. That is when the tax assessors' offices in the college district's six counties will release more definitive projections than the estimates the college has been working with.
On the expenses side of the ledger, the college's Budget Review Committee, in a memo to the trustees, predicted that expenditures for the 2013-2014 school year are expected to be essentially the same as expenditures during the 2012-2013 year.
The biggest change proposed is a 3 percent salary increase for full-time and part-time staff and faculty. Along with an anticipated 6.5 percent increase in health insurance premiums, these two items are expected to cost the college district approximately $1.7 million.
The committee recommended that the college trustees use $2.9 million from two reserve funds - $1 million from the "deferred maintenance reserve" and $1.9 million from the "revenue reserve" - to cover "one-time" spending requests for such items as instructional equipment, computer equipment and some delayed maintenance projects.
Together, the two reserve funds contained about $20 million as of June 30, 2012, well above the trustees' requirement that the school keep at least 25 percent of its annual expenditures in reserve.
By spending $2.9 million, the reserves would drop to a total of just over $17 million, which English said would leave the school with a reserve account of about 28 percent of spending.
Overall, the college's operating fund is expected to come in at approximately $55 million for the coming fiscal year.
Trustee Ken Brenner, Routt County, told his fellow trustees that he was concerned about using the reserve funds to cover operating expenses.
"At some point we're going to have to talk about increasing revenues," he said.
Acting college President Dr. Charles "Chick" Dassance noted that a financial task force had recommended the college conduct an analysis of its tuition relative to other, similar schools, with an emphasis on "budget sustainability."
He suggested the study be done early next year, after a new, permanent president is hired.
Trustee Kathy Goudy asked whether there is any property the college could sell off to raise funds, but board chair Glenn Davis indicated he would prefer cutting nonessential aspects of college operations to selling off college assets.
The college budget is to get a second hearing at a trustees meeting on May 13, with adoption scheduled for June.