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No increase in Northeast tax levy to support 2019-20 budget

No increase in Northeast tax levy to support 2019-20 budget

NORFOLK, NE – Constituents in the 20 counties of the Northeast Community College service area will not see an increase in the institution’s tax requirement to support the next fiscal year budget.

Following a meeting Thursday in Norfolk, the Board of Governors approved a $63.3 million budget for fiscal year 2019-20. Included in that amount are three tax supported funds – a general operating budget of $47.9 million, a building improvement budget of $15.3 million and an Accessibility/Haz Mat budget of $72,130.  

The total levy for all tax supported funds is 9.50 cents, which includes a two-cent building improvement levy, the same as 2018-19. The maximum levy allowed by the state is 11.25 cents per $100 of valuation. All three tax supporting budgets are down from 2018-19, which includes the general operating budget. It is $1.1 million less, or a 2.24 percent decrease, from a year ago. The owner of a home in Northeast’s 20 county service area with a taxable value of $200,000 will pay the same as last year at $190. Northeast is one entity on individual tax statements.

Steve Schram, co interim president, said there are some increases in expenditures in the general operating budget, which are attributed to personnel, facilities, 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,” he said. “Funding continues to support the board’s goals through the Vision 2020 strategic plan, a negotiated total compensation increase with employees and continuation of expenses such as an increase in utilities, insurance, software licenses and maintenance agreements.”

Schram said revenue adjustments have been made, in part, through an increase in tuition the board approved earlier this year and a state aid increase of approximately 2.2 percent. A portion of Northeast’s state aid is to be distributed to Nebraska’s tribal colleges.

Schram said the property tax requirement to support the three budgets has been reduced by approximately one-percent because of a decline in the 20-county area property valuations. That reduction equates to $330,898 less revenue. However, the Nameplate Capacity Tax, which is similar to tax increment financing, is imposed on a facility that generates electricity using wind, solar, biomass, and landfill gas as a fuel source, and has made up for some of the loss.

Administrators also made cuts in expenditures of $2.7 million to balance the budget.

Correspondingly, the board previously approved a budget lid override as set forth by state statute. Schram said the override only allows the College to accept additional state aid or property tax dollars if they would become available.

Also on Thursday, the board approved the non-tax supported self-supporting budgets of $43.3 million. Northeast’s non-tax supporting funds are financed by sales and fee revenue, federal financial aid, state and federal grants, capital campaigns, and revenue bonds.

“I want to thank the administration and staff for their excellent work in developing this budget before us today,” said Steve Anderson, Concord, board chair. “It can be a challenge to go back in and look for places to reduce spending. However, that has been achieved in this fiscally responsible spending plan.”

Anderson continued, “It is the board’s wish to maintain our investment in Northeast Community College as it reflects in our commitment to serve the constituents of northeast and north central Nebraska by creating opportunities for them to achieve their educational goals while addressing workforce development issues across the region.”

Gene Willers, Pilger, chair of the Finance Committee, said he and fellow board members are mindful of their responsibility to be good stewards of public funds.

“This year, we were able to maintain the tax levy while upholding our commitment of providing a quality education to our students. I commend the administration in its efforts in finding a way to move us forward through thoughtful planning and financing of the college,” he said.

Mary Honke, co interim president, said this budget enables Northeast to continue to meet its mission of providing accessible, affordable educational opportunities to students as well delivering multiple services to its constituency.

“Preparing our students for the workforce not only benefits the student, but directly benefits business and industry skilled workforce shortages. While Northeast contributes to the workforce through our skilled graduates and training programs, the College’s regional impact is substantial to this region of Nebraska.”

The Northeast Community College Career Services Office reports in its latest placement report, that 85-percent of Northeast graduates are employed in Nebraska; 58-percent in the College’s 20 county service area.