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CMC’s budget reduced by $10 million

Kathryn Corazzelli
Summit Daily News

After anticipating substantial decreases in two of Colorado Mountain College’s three main sources of revenue, college board trustees voted Monday to approve a $10 million reduction in the budget for next fiscal year. The 2011-12 budget is $55.2 million, compared to $65.5 million for the current fiscal year.

“In 2011-12 we expect to see a 26 percent decrease in property tax revenues across our six-county district, as well as a 23 percent decrease in funding from the state,” said Linda English, the college’s vice president for finance.

College president Dr. Stan Jensen said property taxes account for about 71 percent of CMC’s operations budget, while 19 percent comes from tuition and 9 percent comes from state funding.

The bulk of the impact from the $10 million cut will be in the capital projects portion of the college’s budget, in setting aside funds for future construction projects. Because the college has long used a “pay-as-you-go” philosophy and has already reserved funds for such projects like a replacement academic building in Steamboat Springs and the consolidation of Central Services sites in downtown Glenwood Springs, those current projects will be unaffected by the cut to the capital budget. Capital campaigns are also underway to raise additional funds for those projects.

The general operating budget for 2011-12 is increasing 3.5 percent, to $52 million, compared to last year. The increase is largely because of health insurance premiums jumping 20 percent, as well as increased costs for utilities and adding adjunct instructors to meet growing enrollment for credit classes, English said. Across the board, there will be a salary freeze for all college employees in the coming year.

“Those declines will be partially offset by increased revenues we anticipate from higher enrollments and a small increase in tuition rates,” English said.

Jensen said full-time, two-year student enrollment is up about 9.6 percent. Tuition for the 2011-2012 school year is rising about 8 percent for in-district students.

College officials were anticipating a downward spike in property values and thus tax revenue, Jensen said, and have been saving accordingly.

“Like everyone else, we keep our eyes on the economy and factors that affect us a great deal, like property values,” he said. “Hopefully we’re at the bottom of property values going down.”

To help underwrite the operating budget, trustees approved a $1.6 million transfer from reserves to cover one-time costs in classroom equipment and minor maintenance.

Jensen also said the next two years are uncertain for state funding, so the college will continue to budget conservatively in preparation for expected shortfalls.

Breckenridge dorms?

While Jensen said they don’t expect to build many buildings in the next few years, he did say ongoing studies concerning the building of dormitories at the Breckenridge campus will continue, and he expects data to be in toward the end of the summer. A decision to pursue or delay the project should occur within the next year.

“We are still considering the possibility of a resident facility in Breckenridge,” he said. “My hope is the data will show it’s a valuable contribution to make to that campus.”

Because dorms would bring in revenue if filled, the college would still consider building in Breckenridge if student need dictated it. Instead of reserving funds for the project, the college would probably borrow funds or have someone else build them, Jensen said.


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