Tyler Junior College hoping to increase its revenues

Published on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 22:26 - Written by Emily Guevara eguevara@tylerpaper.com

With perhaps its biggest year in history ahead, Tyler Junior College is proposing to hold the line on the tax rate but increase its revenues to address the needs of new programs.

In 2015, the college is expected to open three new buildings: the Rogers Nursing and Health Sciences Center, a dormitory and the Energy Center on the West Campus. With these buildings and some new health care and technical programs coming online, this year’s budget will reflect some costs associated with those programs.

The college expects to propose a budget of about $82.8 million, although the exact figure is still being worked out. That would be an increase of more than $4 million from last year’s adopted budget.

The college is proposing to maintain the existing tax rate of 19.99 cents per $100 valuation.

The owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $199.90 in property taxes, the same as last year.

The average TJC homeowner would pay about $265 in property taxes. The average home value in the TJC district this year is $132,583, up more than $3,330 from $129,255 last year.

“I think we’re doing a whole lot with what we have and doing our best to hold the line on taxes and not place more of a burden on students,” TJC President Dr. Mike Metke said.

Some of this year’s budget expenses are tied to new health care programs coming on line this year and in the coming years.

These include occupational therapy assistant and physical therapy assistant. The college already has hired faculty for these programs and the first cohort of occupational therapy assistant students will start this fall.

Part of the purpose of launching at least one of these programs now is because the college is in the middle of its base period, which is the time in which the state considers enrollment figures for the purposes of state funding.

Whatever enrollment the college had this summer as well as this fall and the coming spring will be used to determine its state appropriation. So, it is in the best interest of TJC to have as many students as possible during this time.

The budget proposal represents about a 5 percent increase over last year’s proposed budget.

The revenue to fund this increase will come in part through an increase in certain course-specific student user fees.

Because certain courses such as those associated with health care and certain technical programs require the use of more expensive technology and equipment, these students pay more fees to take these classes.

In the health care courses, these fees combined with the bond funds and private donations are funding the new Rogers Nursing and Health Sciences Center. In other programs, the fees help pay for program expenses.

The state revenue is expected to be the same this year because this is the second year of the biennium, the state’s two-year funding cycle.

Enrollment is expected to reach about 10,000 students, which would be unchanged when compared to last year, college officials said.

Metke said as the economy has improved, people are leaving school and moving into the workforce, which follows the typical trend.

Sarah Van Cleef, TJC’s vice president of business affairs and chief financial officer, said an increase in property valuations will generate an estimated $600,000 in additional revenue.

The board voted in July to not recommend any employee raises. However, Metke said he is open to giving raises later in the fiscal year if revenues are available.

College officials are looking at increasing the adjunct faculty salary by $200. This would take it from $1,800 to $2,000 for a three-hour course.

The TJC board of trustees is scheduled to have two public hearings about its proposed tax revenue increase before voting on Aug. 28. The meetings are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today and 11 a.m. Aug. 21 in the White Administrative Services Center Board Room on the TJC main campus, 1400 E. Fifth St.