Colorado Mountain College board approves 9 percent tuition increase |

Colorado Mountain College board approves 9 percent tuition increase

EDWARDS, Colorado – The Colorado Mountain College board of trustees, meeting at the Vail-Eagle Campus in Edwards Monday, decided to maintain the college district’s current mill levy of 3.997 for the coming 2010-11 budget year.

The board also approved a 9 percent student tuition increase for the academic year beginning next fall, including a $4 per-credit-hour increase for in-district students, and $7 per-credit-hour increase for students living in Colorado, but outside the CMC district.

With an increase in assessed property valuation this year based on 2008 values, CMC’s mill levy, which has remained the same since 1990, is expected to generate a one-time windfall for the six-county college district of about $14.4 million, CMC Chief Financial Officer Linda English said during a telephone press conference following Monday’s meeting.

The increased revenues will include an additional $7.2 million in Garfield County, where much of that tax base is tied to the oil and gas industry.

The industry was booming during the early part of 2008, the period for which the valuations were set this year, she said.

However, that same industry tax base is projected to decline about 52 percent next year, which would result in a decrease of about $8.4 million for the CMC district for the 2011-12 fiscal year, and another $7.8 million drop in 2012-13.

The mill levy will produce a windfall of about $3.7 million this year for Pitkin County’s portion of CMC’s funding, English said.

Coupled with an expected 20 percent cut in state funding for CMC next year, the college had to look at the longer term picture, CMC President Stan Jensen said.

“We do have to look at how that mill levy will affect our funding in the coming years,” he said. “It’s a short blip up for us this year, but we’re looking at a significant downward plunge after that.”

He said that’s the message the college has to send to taxpayers who may be concerned that the college didn’t adjust its mill levy downward as a way of relief to make up for the higher property valuations this year.

“We’re always very concerned about serving our taxpayers with the best value possible,” Jensen said, noting that CMC provides valuable training for workers who provide community services, such as emergency medical technicians, nurses and police officers.

“Every taxpayer dollar we spend we try to have a good return on that investment,” he said.

The decision to retain the mill levy at the existing rate didn’t come without some serious thought, CMC board President Stan Orr said.

“This was labored over, and contemplated for three meetings in a row,” he said. “We didn’t take the decision lightly. As board members, we are all taxpayers ourselves, and it’s something we take very seriously.

“I think we’ve done our due diligence,” Orr said. “This was a difficult decision to make, but we feel it was a very prudent one when you look two, three years down the road.”

At the same time funding for community colleges is dwindling, enrollment is increasing, Jensen noted.

“We are seeing somewhere between a 10 to 14 percent increase in our student body,” he said. “We are delighted with that, but at the same time it does stretch us.”

Meanwhile, the tuition increase will take effect in the 2010-11 academic year and will bring in-district tuition to $49 per credit hour. Tuition will increase to $82 per credit hour for in-state (non-district) students, and will increase $21 to $256 per credit hour for out-of-state students.

The college has not increased tuition for two years, while other colleges in the state have, Jensen noted.

“We still offer by far the lowest tuition and the best value in the state,” he said. “Even with this modest increase, we will continue to be the best value for our students.”

No members of the public were present to comment on either the tuition increase proposal or the mill levy certification, Orr said.

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