CAC Budget Presented to Governing Board
By Angela Askey, Director of Marketing
Central Arizona College presented its proposed budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year during the April 21, 2015 Pinal County Community College District Governing Board meeting.
Governing Board members were shown a breakdown of Pinal County’s current sources of revenue. CAC receives only 14% of local tax revenues. This means that for every $1 of a taxpayer’s tax bill, only 14 cents is allocated to support the county’s community college district. School districts receive the largest portion at 41% and the county government receives 25%.
“Since 2008, state funding has been reduced by 65%. This year’s threat of removing all funding is a sign of the future. Rather than funding community colleges, the state is moving toward a system that is entirely locally controlled,” stated Chris Wodka, CAC Chief Financial Officer. “The College needs a sustainable funding source to plan for the future.”
The Primary Tax Rates for fiscal year 1994-1995 through fiscal year 2014-2015 were shared during the meeting. In years when the College did not need to levy the full amount, it did not. However, over the last four years CAC has made cuts and deferred maintenance of at least $43 million at the Signal Peak Campus alone where major remodeling and repairs are needed for science labs, residence halls, the gym and library. Since 2012 the College has made significant reductions including but not limited to: closing of the Coolidge and SaddleBrooke centers; shifting to a four-day work week to save on utilities and part time wages; staffing limitations at the new campuses, reducing the number of vice presidents; decreasing employee benefits; closing the Signal Peak Campus Pool; eliminating the Police Training Academy; and reducing scholarships.
“This is not a sustainable trajectory. We are left with two options: we must borrow or raise revenue,” explained Wodka. “While the college could borrow money, the taxpayers would pay interest and the college would lose operating dollars.”
CAC is proposing to create a “pay-as-you-go” program that would allow the college to refurbish SPC in phases starting with the science labs.
“With an increase in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programming it is critical for the college to improve our facilities to provide a quality education for students that will prepare them for tomorrow’s workforce,” stated Doris Helmich, President.
CAC's administration is proposing an increased tax levy that would sustain the college and invest in Pinal County's future.
With the proposed tax levy, the increased cost to a property owner whose home is assessed at $100,000 would be $86.04 per year. This equates to $7.17 per month or $1.65 per week. Even with this proposed increase, CAC’s tax rate would be below many of the local school districts who do not serve the entire county as CAC does.
“Taxpayer support to the college is an investment in the economic development of Pinal County. An educated workforce attracts industry to an area thus sharing the tax base and lowering taxes,” stated Helmich.
An Economic Modeling Study completed in December 2014 shows that CAC and its students add $212.7 million in income to Pinal County each year. For every $1.00 spent, taxpayers see a return of $1.30 in the form of higher tax receipts and avoided social costs. State and local governments see an annual rate of return of $6.90 and students gain $6.00 in lifetime income.