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Sat, Oct. 19

YC budget includes more, more<BR>Adds in state growth money, 6 FT positions, among other things

PRESCOTT – The 2004-05 budget that the Yavapai Community College District board adopted Tuesday includes state growth money, more money from taxpayers and six new full-time faculty positions.

During his presentation at the district's public budget hearing, the college's vice president for finance and facilities, Terry Bowmaster, explained that this year, state legislators appropriated 2 percent growth money to community colleges statewide to pay for enrollment growth obtained during the 2002-03 school year. That amounts to $252,000 for Yavapai College.

In addition, the college will get more money from primary tax levies because of an increase in assessed property valuation countywide and because the college will levy 2 percent more in primary property taxes than the state's truth in taxation calculation calls for. The budget's total is about $75 million, which Bowmaster said is a 3.7 percent increase over the 2003-04 fiscal year budget.

In an e-mail she sent to members of the Governing Board and to The Daily Courier, Brenda Brown, organizer of the YC Accountability Alliance, questioned why the college still plans to levy the maximum amount of primary property taxes despite money coming from the state.

The e-mail states correctly that through tuition and fees students account for 15 percent of the budget revenues. Brown asks why property owners, whose money makes up 70 percent of the revenues, will pay 10 percent more this year than they did this past year.

Both Yavapai College President Doreen Dailey and Bowmaster explained that college personnel try to maintain a balance between affordable tuition for all the county's citizens and generating income from students.

During the 2003-04 school year, the college raised tuition $7 per credit hour. During the 2004-05 school year, the college will charge students $3 per credit hour for technology fees and what comes out to an additional $1.60 per credit hour for course fees. So, while students will pay more, Bowmaster said, college personnel want school to remain feasible.

Though Brown said in the e-mail that taxpayers will shoulder 97 percent of the district's budgeted increase for the 2004-05 school year, Bowmaster said that the actual number is just less than 80 percent when the state growth money is factored in.

And although the state this year will dole out $252,000 to Yavapai College – Bow-master said that if the state had continued to pay for growth during the past three years, the college would have $1.7 million more than it does now. That money would help pay for the 5 percent increase in enrollment the college has continued to experience.

Without that money, Yavapai College needs help from taxpayers to accommodate enrollment growth, Bowmaster said. Though the school's primary tax rate decreased this year, taxpayers will pay more because of increased property values and because of the college's decision to levy the maximum amount the state allows.

Contact the reporter at heller@prescottaz.com

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