CMC board holds preliminary hearing on draft 2011-12 budget |

CMC board holds preliminary hearing on draft 2011-12 budget

Colorado Mountain College’s board of trustees was presented Monday with the college’s draft budget for the 2011-12 academic year.

Because of projected substantial decreases in two of three of the college’s main sources of revenue, the overall draft budget is $10 million lower than the current year.

The bulk of that impact will be felt in planning for future construction projects.

“Our facilities projects that are now under way, such as a replacement building in Steamboat Springs and the consolidation of Central Services sites in downtown Glenwood Springs, will be unaffected by the cut to the capital budget,” Dr. Stan Jensen, president of the college, told the trustees. “As is our practice, we have set aside funds in advance to help pay for most of the needed construction and maintenance, while raising additional funds through community donations. The raising of significant money through our CMC Foundation will be strategically important over the coming months.”

The college has also set aside reserves to support the introduction of bachelor’s degrees in the fall. The tuition rate for upper-division courses was set so that state funding isn’t needed to underwrite their cost, which was a requirement for the degrees’ approval at the state level. Reserves in hand will absorb start-up costs that aren’t covered by tuition, administrators said.

The proposed general operating budget is increasing 3.5 percent, to $52 million. The increase is largely because of health insurance premiums that are jumping 20 percent, as well as increased costs for utilities and adding adjunct instructors to meet increased enrollment for credit classes.

Across the board, college employees are facing a salary freeze in the coming year, Jensen explained. The draft budget also outlines tapping into the reserves to the tune of approximately $1.6 million.

It’s been a complicated balancing act to ensure that reduced funding and increased costs in some areas don’t affect the college’s ability to serve the learning needs of its projected 24,000 students, trustees heard. Tying the budget to the college’s strategic plan and vision of becoming first choice for students and community members drove budgeting decisions.

“In 2011-12 we anticipate a 23 percent decrease in funding from the state, as well as a 26 percent decrease in property tax revenues,” Linda English, the college’s vice president for finance, explained. “Partially offsetting those declines are the increased revenues we expect to receive from higher enrollments and a small increase in tuition rates.”

Both English and Jensen reminded the trustees that the next two years are very uncertain for state funding, so the college will continue to budget conservatively in preparation for expected shortfalls.

“For the past several years we’ve known and planned for state and property tax revenues to decrease like this,” said Stan Orr, president of the board of trustees. “Because as a board we’ve directed staff to set aside reserves, while maintaining a conservative operating budget, I believe we are relatively well situated to ride out these next several years of uncertainty.”

The trustees will examine the budget once more and consider it for passage at their June meeting.

A draft budget will soon be available for viewing at the college’s locations and on its website.

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