College considers spending with wary eye toward future
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Colorado Mountain College trustees got their first look this week at a $65.5 million draft 2010-11 general fund budget, which will be slated for final approval next month at a meeting in Aspen.The budget is about $2 million more than the current year’s budget, but college officials are uncertain what CMC’s fiscal future will bring, according to a CMC board of trustees statement, which is posted on the college website along with the proposed budget.”This proposed budget is predicated on current and evolving economic conditions,” the trustees’ statement reads. “A decline in property tax revenue is anticipated, and state revenues are projected to drop significantly.”Helping to offset those declines are a 9 percent tuition increase for 2010-11 that was approved earlier this year, as well as an anticipated increase in overall student enrollment in the coming year.The CMC board also kept the six-county special college district’s property tax mill levy at the same rate, which, due to a higher assessed valuation based on June 2008 property values, will mean more revenue for CMC – at least for the next year.After that, things are likely to change.”The next three years are very uncertain for state funding, and the college is budgeting very conservatively in preparation for an expected shortfall,” the trustees’ statement says.The 2010-11 budget is based on a 53 percent decrease in state funding, as higher education took a major hit in recent state budget cuts.”Fiscal year 2011-12 and forward we are anticipating at least a 50 percent cut,” CMC President Stan Jensen states in letter to citizens, which is also posted on the website.”It could be more than that, but we are prepared to cover further cuts with reserves for a couple of years,” he said. “Property tax is also very tentative; I am estimating property taxes from the gas and oil industry to decrease by 52 percent next year.”Residential property values are likely to decline by about 20 percent when valuations for tax purposes are reset based on values as of this June, Jensen predicted.CMC, as a special district based in Glenwood Springs, rather than a state-run community college, is primarily dependent on property taxes for its operating revenues.Property taxes make up about 81 percent of CMC’s funding, while 13 percent comes from tuition and fees, 5 percent from the state, and 1 percent from other sources, according to the budget documents.The proposed budget reflects less spending on facilities projects next year, as several large projects are wrapping up this year, including an addition to the college building in Edwards and a new classroom building in Leadville.CMC’s general fund budget has grown from about $51.5 million in 2006-07 to a little more than $65.5 million, as reflected in the draft budget for next year.The draft CMC budget for Colorado Mountain College is available for viewing at any CMC site, or by going to the college’s website, http://www.coloradomtn.edu; once there, choose the pulldown menus for “Communities & Friends,” then “Board of Trustees,” and then “Budget & Audit.”The CMC Board of Trustees will vote on the proposed budget at its June 21 meeting at the CMC campus in Aspen. CMC’s monthly board meetings rotate throughout the college’s 11 learning sites.