NORFOLK, NE – A decrease in funding from the state and no change in property valuations are among factors that will impact the operating budget for the next fiscal year at Northeast Community College. On Thursday, the Board of Governors gave unanimous approval to the College’s 2018-19 budget following a public hearing during its monthly meeting in Norfolk.
Dirk Petersen, of Norfolk, chairperson of the board of governors, said he and the board are taxpayers themselves, and therefore, are very mindful of being good stewards of the funds necessary for college operations.
“Student success is our highest priority. Northeast Community College is diligent in achieving this goal and we take our stewardship of public funds very seriously. I am confident that this budget will allow the College to continue to provide a quality education for our students, which prepares them to help address the pressing skilled workforce shortages.”
In each of the past four years, the Northeast board has lowered the property tax levy. However, the total levy for all funds in the 2018-19 document of 9.50 cents is up from 9.09 cents in 2017-18, but still below the maximum levy allowed by the state of 11.25 cents per $100 of valuation.
According to Lynne Koski, vice president of administrative services at the College, the owner of a home in Northeast’s 20-county service area with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay approximately $4.08 more over the previous year.
During Thursday’s public hearings, Koski reviewed the general operating budget of $49,024,243, $18,298,860 in the building improvement budget, which is designed to save and prepare for future construction projects while maintaining existing facilities college-wide, and the accessibility barrier removal/hazardous materials budget of $297,518. The total for these three tax supported budgets is $67,620,621.
Koski said increases in the 2018-19 general operating budget are attributed to mainly personnel and support services to help students succeed in college.
“Funding for the College’s general fund budget comes primarily from student tuition and fees, state aid, and property taxes.” she said.
The Board of Governors has also approved a budget lid override as set forth by state statute. Koski said the override permits the College to accept additional state aid or property tax dollars if they would become available.
Dr. Michael Chipps, college president, said the approved budget provides for the continued “forward work” of the College, as well as playing an integral role in meeting Northeast’s strategic goals.
“Across our 20-county service area, Northeast Community College provides an exceptional educational experience for our diverse student population. 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; and this budget supports the board’s direction.”
Chipps said Northeast Community College plays a significant role in not only providing a skilled workforce, but it is also a major player in the growth of the service area’s economy.
“The College is an investment in the future of our 20-county service area and the more than 100 communities we serve.”
Petersen noted that it is important to remember that the College continues to look at reinvesting in the communities throughout the region it represents.
“For example, this is highlighted by the work taking place in West Point where construction of the Donald E. Nielsen Career and Technical Training Facility is currently underway. Northeast is among the partners working to bring in seniors from eight high schools in 16 area communities in order to learn the technical skills that are necessary to help fill the jobs of area businesses and industries. The facility will also serve as a model for other community colleges across the country to emulate in addressing the workforce shortage issue.”
“As a board, we take very seriously our role to be responsible custodians of public funds,” said Jeff Scherer, of Beemer, chair of the board's finance committee. “This budget keeps the College moving forward, while maintaining the high quality of education for which Northeast Community College is known and valued.”