Austin Community College District (ACC) is starting its fiscal year 2022 budget process with a balanced budget that keeps tuition and fees steady and includes compensation adjustment.
Neil Vickers, ACC executive vice president of Finance and Administration, presented an overview of the upcoming budget at the April 5 ACC Board of Trustees meeting.
Fortunately, many of the concerns the college had last year due to the pandemic did not happen: enrollments did not drop, state funding cuts did not happen because community colleges were exempted, and property taxes — which make up about 60 percent of the college's funding — did not decrease. Enrollments have actually remained steady and the college is expecting a 5 to 10 percent increase in state appropriations and an increase in the property tax base.
The draft budget sets aside a two-percent increase for compensation packages and funds all commitments related to bringing on Highland Campus buildings 2000 and 3000, Rio Grande Campus, and a new chiller plant.
It also keeps tuition and fees steady; however, Vickers proposed a decrease in two tuition and fee categories: out-of-district fee and out-of-state tuition for Distance Education programs. It would cost the college an estimated $7.5 million in revenue to lower these rates and the college has already absorbed $6 million due to all classes becoming DE classes due to COVID-19, leaving $1.5 million.
Trustees must approve any changes to tuition and course-related fees at the May 3 Board meeting in order to be in effect for fall 2021.
Other budget topics the board will discuss in future meetings include: Board policy changes to property tax exemptions; the Technology and Capital Outlay Plan; compensation and benefits, including non-faculty market study; and new budget items, including operations for new facilities and Strategic Plan initiatives/new items.