The Austin Community College District Board of Trustees adopted a $265 million budget for 2011-12 during its July 5 meeting. The budget balances the need to address state funding cuts against the college’s mission to expand programs and services in response to community demand.
“This budget is an amazing accomplishment when you consider the incredibly difficult economic climate ACC and other colleges and universities are facing,” says Dr. Barbara Mink, chair of the Board of Trustees. “ACC has managed to avoid layoffs, furloughs, and salary cuts, and we’re meeting our goals without asking more of taxpayers.”
The college’s Master Plan guides the budget, ensuring resources are allocated in alignment with core objectives of meeting enrollment targets, expanding instructional capacity, enhancing student success, and expanding fiscal capacity.
“ACC is committed to continuing to grow as demand increases,” says Dr. Stephen B. Kinslow, ACC president/CEO. “This balanced budget allows us to fulfill our responsibilities to the community while acting judiciously in the face of significant cuts in state funding.”
The budget reflects a 15 percent reduction in state appropriations, a $9.6 million loss for ACC. State funding has dropped from 41 percent of ACC’s budget a decade ago to 20 percent in the 2011-12 budget, which takes effect September 1.
Tax revenues are projected to be flat this year. The exact rate will be set after property tax rolls are certified this summer, but the rate is expected to remain essentially unchanged – about 9½ cents per $100 valuation. The college offers a standard $5,000 homestead exemption plus a $115,000 exemption for seniors and homeowners with disabilities.
As part of the budget approval process, trustees increased spring 2012 tuition by $5 per credit hour to $57. The rate for out-of-district students will be $199 per hour ($57 tuition plus a $142 out-of-district fee). The board previously raised summer and fall 2011 tuition by $5 each, and a new fee structure takes effect this fall.
“Restructuring tuition and fees was not an easy decision, but it was prudent under the circumstances,” says Dr. Mink. “ACC administration and the board are mindful of the impact on students, and we are implementing institutional efficiencies to reduce costs. In addition, the college has expanded scholarship opportunities, and students have a variety of tuition payment options.”
Cost efficiencies include $3.5 million in savings due to enrollment management changes (an increase in class limits and scheduling efficiencies) and a $500,000 reduction of administrative budgets. The board voted to suspend the property tax exemption for historical properties for another year. That decision infuses the 2011-12 budget with nearly $323,000 in additional funds.
“ACC has planned well and anticipated declining state support,” says Dr. Kinslow. “As a result, we are in a stronger position than many other institutions.”
The budget incorporates a 2 percent raise for full-time faculty and staff, with adjunct faculty raises prorated based on work load. The college did not give across-the-board raises last year.
During the meeting, the board also adopted the 2012-14 Master Plan. The vote was part of the annual review and update of ACC’s comprehensive strategy for the future.
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