Northeast board raises tax levy to 9.5 cents to support growth
To support Northeast Community College’s growth plan and better serve students, the college’s board of governors voted Thursday to increase the college’s tax levy for the first time in four years.
The board voted unanimously to raise the property tax levy to 9.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from the originally proposed 9.318 cents. The decision adds about $664,000 to the college’s 2018-19 general operating budget.
After Lynne Koski, vice president of administrative services, presented the proposed 2018-19 budget as part of a public hearing Thursday, board member Del Ames of Neligh made a motion to increased the tax levy to 9.5 cents.
“Now is not the time to get queasy about the budget,” Ames said. “We’ve got such a demand for skilled workforce out there, and this college provides that tool and affordability.”
With the change, the owner of a home in Northeast’s 20-county service area with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay about $4.08 more than last year, Koski said.
The original 2018-19 proposed property tax request was $31,212,637.01 with a tax rate of .0931. In the 2017-18 fiscal year, the tax rate was .0909 and the property tax request was $30,457,217.61.
The percentage increase shifted from 3.8 to 5.1 percent under Ames’ motion.
The amended tax request was $31,822,285.00, a difference of $1,365,067.39 from the 2017-18 school year and $609,647.99 from the original request.
The additional funds will support the general operating budget, which affects day-to-day operational funding for the college, equipment, travel and utilities, Koski said. The original proposed operating budget was $48,420,692 and the approved budget was $49,024,243.
The general operating budget is one of three parts making up the tax-supported budget. The other parts, which were approved as presented, are the 2018-19 building improvement fund budget at $18,298,860 and the accessibility barrier/hazardous materials budget at $297,518. The total for these three tax-supported budgets is $67,620,621.
Other factors in deciding the budget included no change in property valuations and a decrease in funding from the state, Koski said. Northeast received a decrease in state funds totaling $765,766 over the last two school years. It is also using $1,375,000 in cash reserves to offset costs.
Ames said Northeast’s Vision 2020 is one of the initiatives the additional funds would support. Vision 2020 is a strategic plan first enacted in 2015 focusing on occupational education, transfer education, public service and applied research, according to the college’s website.
Vision 2020 also addresses timely issues like workforce shortages and declining populations, something Ames said the college can better address with a more robust general budget.
“Our Vision plan for 2020 is huge,” he told the Daily News. “In order to stay on track with that, we need to put the money toward those visions in order to keep this college ahead of everybody.”
Dr. Michael Chipps, college president, also cited Vision 2020 as a key part of the budget.
“Through the Vision 2020 comprehensive plan, the board of governors has been strategic about where the college needs to be in order to best educate a 21st century, highly skilled workforce,” he said, “And this budget supports the board’s direction.”
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The full Vision 2020 plan is available for review at https://bit.ly/2p6sQ4T