CMC independence providing a payoff
For much of the history of Colorado Mountain College, people have debated whether it should continue to be an independent college.
Today, its resistance to incorporation into the state college system is looking like a pretty good thing.
Across Colorado, higher-education facilities are suffering greatly due to cuts in the state funding on which they depend. The result is that these schools are being forced to raise tuition to stay in the black.
But CMC is a notable exception. Its tuition will stay the same next fall.
CMC hasn’t been immune from the impacts of Colorado’s budget shortfall. The college recently lost $800,000 in funding as the state tried to make up an $870 million budget deficit.
But only 15 percent of CMC’s funding comes from the state. Seventy percent comes from the property taxes paid within the CMC district.
Thus, CMC students are being spared the prospect of tuition hikes that are ranging from 6 to 15 percent at other Colorado schools.
CMC’s rosier budgetary outlook is a credit in part to the institution’s care in handling its finances. But much of the credit goes to taxpayers themselves, who recognize the value CMC provides to the mountain communities it serves. They even approved a deBrucing measure a few years ago to remove the Taxpayers Bill of Rights limit on tax revenues and enable the college to further improve the job it is doing.
There will still be taxpayers out there who would prefer to see CMC funded differently. They object to the burden placed on property owners and point to the benefits of inclusion in the state college system.
While there may indeed be efficiencies to be gained by such a move, today’s budgetary climate suggests this is far from a good time to be considering abandoning CMC’s independence.
Due to conflicting state amendments and a lack of a rainy day fund, the state budget has proven exceedingly vulnerable to economic downturns. Cuts become unavoidable, even when unwise.
Hopefully, the state will act to reduce this vulnerability. For now, residents in CMC’s district should cherish its independence, which is helping keep higher education affordable, close to home.
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