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Board of Governors approves 2021-22 budgets with lower tax levy

Board of Governors approves 2021-22 budgets with lower tax levy

NORFOLK, Neb. – The Northeast Community College Board of Governors has given unanimous approval to the institution’s 2021-22 budgets. The action took place Tuesday following public hearings during the board’s monthly meeting in Norfolk.

The board approved a general operating budget of $51,007,037 and a building improvement budget of $11,695,192 for a total tax-supported budget of $62,702,229, down from $67,645,396 from last year. The general operating budget is funded from property taxes, state aid, and student tuition and fees while the building improvement budget is supported through property taxes and student fees. A portion of Northeast’s state aid is to be distributed to Nebraska’s tribal colleges.

At its meeting in August, the Board of Governors approved a budget lid override as set forth by state statute. The lid override allows Northeast to accept additional state aid or property tax dollars if they would become available.

Scott Gray, vice president of administrative services, said operational funding at Northeast has been adjusted based on several factors.

“In addition to the standard state aid allocation based on the current funding formula, Northeast received an additional allocation for dual enrollment. With a slight increase in property tax valuations across the 20-county service area, we were able to decrease the general fund property tax levy while maintaining our current tuition and fee rates from a year ago,” he said. “Additionally, expenditures have been affected by a negotiated total compensation increase, voluntary separation expenses of faculty retiring as of August 2021, as well as increases in utilities, insurance, software licenses and maintenance agreements.”

Gray said the building improvement budget decreased from the previous year due, in part, to major completion of the student union building, Union 73.

“The building improvement budget comprises of funding for continuing projects, including finalizing the Union 73 renovation/addition project as well as facility upgrades and repairs. Upcoming projects include renovations to the College’s Lifelong Learning Center, Learning Resource Center (former library building), a new truck driving range at the South Sioux City extended campus for CDL (commercial driver’s license) training, upgrades in the Cox Activities Center and other facility upgrades and repairs.”

The property tax requirement of $31,325,902 to fund the College’s budget is down $90,734 from the previous year. This is due to a decrease in the property tax levy from 9.5 cents to 9.4 cents.

Nebraska state statute establishes a general fund property tax levy rate limit not to exceed the difference between 11.25 cents and the rate levied for the building improvement fund per $100 of taxable property valuation. The total property tax levy for all funds of 9.4 cents, which includes the two-cent building improvement levy, will decrease after it had remained the same for the three prior years. The owner of a home in Northeast’s 20 county service area with a taxable value of $200,000 will pay $188. 

Additionally, the College’s non-tax self-supporting funds budget for 2021-22 totals $37,285,176. These funds include sales and fee revenue, federal financial aid, state and federal grants, including CARES Act dollars, and capital campaigns. Overall, the total of all budgets (general operating, building improvement and non-tax self-supporting funds) combined is down 4.74% from the previous year.

Leah Barrett, president, said the College was able to lower the levy due to a combination of a reduction in operating costs and receiving federal funds due to COVID-19.

“The board’s approval of the budget allows Northeast’s strategic priorities to continue to move forward. Priorities of student pathways to success, excellence and innovation in our educational programs, allowing for a rewarding and inspirational place to work and effective resource management establish the foundation for creating a learning and student-ready culture that will drive the success of our graduates, the workforce, and the economy of the 20-county region.”

Steve Anderson, Concord, chairperson of the Board of Governors, said it is essential for the board to maintain a balance when it comes to the budget.

“My fellow board members and I are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of public funds. This year, we are able to decrease the tax levy while continuing our commitment of providing a quality education to our students during a pandemic. 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.