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WC proposed budget cuts local tax rate

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The Weatherford College Board of Trustees and campus administrators are reaching the final stages of the budget process for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Currently, the proposed budget totals $55.5 million with a proposed tax rate decrease from 11.464 cents to 11.146 cents per $100. of valued taxable property. This would net the average Parker County taxpayer savings of about $5. on their annual bill.

The decrease is the result of rising preliminary valuations in the county as well as an increase in state appropriations of nearly $1.6 million over the next two years. Final figures for state appropriations were released in early June, and WC President Dr. Kevin Eaton was proud to inform the board that Weatherford College will receive the largest appropriations increase, percentage-wise, in the state.

“We’ll be seeing a 9.72 percent increase in state funding,” Eaton said. “The next closest out of 50 community college districts was a 6.92 percent increase by South Texas Community College. Of the 50 college districts in the state, only 16 will realize an increase in state appropriations in the coming biennium. The remaining 34 college districts will see a decrease in funding over the next two years.”

The average community college in Texas is losing more than $300,000 over the next biennium while WC’s peer institutions – Alvin, Angelina, Grayson, Kilgore, Midland and Temple – average a $600,000 biennium loss, with Odessa College being the only other peer institutions with an increase in funding in the next biennium.

“I think that’s amazing to see what we’re gaining in comparison to our peer institutions,” Eaton said. “So, we’re clearly doing something right.”

State appropriations for community colleges in Texas are determined by a combination of factors. First, each college district receives $1 million for the biennium for core operations. Secondly, districts receive additional funding based on Student Success Points such as the number of graduating students, program completers and students transferring to four-year institutions. And thirdly, a large portion of funding is determined by the number of contacts hours completed by students.

WC’s tuition rates for 2015-16 will remain flat with the exception of an increase in differential tuition for allied health programs.

Adjustments to the budget will continue throughout the summer as further information is received from the Central Tax Authority until the final budget adoption is made in August.

The board will hold a regular meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, in the Allene Strain Room in WC’s Doss Student Center. A public hearing will be held at noon Tuesday, Aug. 18, in the Mince Administration Building Board Room, another public hearing will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21, in the Strain Room and a final public hearing and vote on the budget and tax rate will occur at a noon meeting Thursday, Aug. 27, in the Mince Board Room. The new fiscal year begins Sept. 1.