The Austin Community College District Board of Trustees has approved a $313 million budget for 2015-16.
The balanced budget represents a 10 percent increase over the 2014-15 budget, due largely to debt service on bonds approved in last year’s referendum and increased employee compensation costs.
“I’m proud of the thorough planning that went into this budget,” says Dr. Victor Villarreal, ACC board chair. “In the face of declining state funding, our administrative staff and employees found a way to keep us moving forward without raising tuition for in-district students. That’s a big win.”
The board voted in May to keep tuition rates for both in-district and out-of-district students unchanged for the 2015-16 academic year. Trustees also voted to maintain current rates for general, sustainability, and student success fees. Tuition for out-of-state students and fees for out-of-district students will increase slightly.
At their July 6 regular meeting, trustees acknowledged the role taxpayer contributions have in helping the college avoid tuition increases, maintain a balanced budget, and pay competitive salaries.
Property tax revenue, boosted by higher appraised home values, is expected to generate almost half of ACC’s total revenue for the year. The college’s property tax rate, expected to increase slightly because of the bond debt, will be set after tax rolls are certified later this summer.
The higher tax revenue will help offset a $2 million reduction in state funding. State appropriations represents 19 percent of the college’s budget, compared with about 21 percent for 2014-15.
While tuition rates for many students will remain unchanged, the college anticipates slightly higher tuition and fee revenue based on a projected 2 percent increase in enrollment.
“Given the relatively low unemployment in the area, we don’t expect the kind of enrollment growth we had during the recession,” says Neil Vickers, ACC’s vice president of finance and budget. “We based our budget on the continued steady growth we’ve had since the economy recovered.”
Almost 13 percent of projected expenses for the year is allocated for payments on outstanding bond debt.
The budget, effective September 1, also includes a 3 percent cost-of-living raise for all employees and market adjustments for several faculty, staff, and administrator positions. The staff increases were recommended following an independent review of ACC’s compensation and classification systems for non-faculty employees. Details about the review and resulting recommendations can be found on the Human Resources Compensation webpage. The college is hosting information sessions for employees about the compensation study in the coming weeks.
The higher compensation costs also reflect a 7 percent increase in employee health insurance premiums paid by the college and higher retirement plan contributions.
Other budgeted expenses are for ongoing facility and technology improvements districtwide.
“It’s important that we continue to provide an affordable and flexible pathway for students to reach their goals,” said ACC President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes. “We’re able to achieve that through thoughtful planning and our taxpayers’ continued support. We’re committed to being good stewards of the funds they’ve entrusted to us.”
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