With multiple uncertain revenue sources looming in the future, the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board adopted a preliminary budget for the next fiscal year predicated on a maximum tax levy and conservative budgeting.
Formal adoption of the budget and tax levy will follow public hearings on Tuesday, May 16. The final budget can be reduced, but not increased from the preliminary figures presented during the public hearings.
“We have an obligation to provide educational opportunities to all residents of Navajo County. We need to put money in the bank now for future shortfalls,” added James Matteson, who represents District 4 on the board. The Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) projects a $1.6 million negative impact to NPC's revenue when APS decides to shut down the Cholla Generating Plant in Joseph City. “And any time the legislature is in session, there's no guarantee we will get our share of state operating aid or equalization funding,” added Matteson.
In response to a question about institutional planning for future revenue reductions, Mark Vest, vice president for learning and Student Services, noted the college would be presenting options to the board later this year that could require future budget reductions and affect facilities, services and programs.
The preliminary budget is posted on the college's website. If the legislature approves the proposed state budget, NPC will receive less than 6 percent of its projected budget in state operating aid. NPC would receive $6,672,100 in state equalization aid to compensate for lower than average property valuations. NPC is one of three rural community college districts receiving equalization aid and has a primary property tax rate significantly lower than the other two equalization districts.
Some increases in employee compensation costs are the result of factors outside of the control of the college, such as the increase in the minimum wage, changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act and healthcare costs. The board did approve a 1.5 percent salary increase to keep the college competitive in retaining qualified employees.
The board also approved the preliminary capital budget for 2017 – 2020. The largest expenditures will go toward technology and maintaining college facilities, funded by a $2 million transfer from the general fund.
Public questions and comments about the budgets can be submitted online or during the public hearings on May 16.
“He gave his life doing what he loved – protecting the citizens of his community,” remarked Chief Joe Shelley of the Show Low Police Department, to a room filled with members of the local law enforcement community and the college, gathered to recognize Show Low Police Officer Darrin Reed, a graduate of NPC's Police Academy, as an NPC Outstanding Alumnus. | Read more.
Reed was fatally wounded on November 8 while responding to a disturbance call, just three months short of his planned retirement after 20 years in law enforcement. Reed's wife Cathy, an NPC employee, and son Chance, an NPC student, accepted the alumnus award on his behalf.
A memorial stand was unveiled at the emotional ceremony, created by NPC welding graduates and instructors Randy Hoskins, Kristina Petersen (at left in right photo), William Tomkinson (at right in right photo), Chris Hoskins and Wes King. Topping the memorial is a bronze casting (left photo) of a Show Low Police Officer's badge, created by metal arts instructor Howard Noble, with assistance from Kent Kidwell, Ian Kinde and Chris Christianson.
The Reed family will be displaying the memorial during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on May 15 to honor the nation's fallen officers. Reed will also be honored at the Arizona Peace Officer Memorial Service on May 1 at the state capitol in Phoenix.
With the planned retirement in June 2018 of NPC President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout, the board authorized requesting proposals from executive search firms and consultants to help with the replacement process. The timeline calls for proposals due on May 19, with actual work on the search beginning in August.
The board approved a $115,564 contract with Pointe Construction to remodel the Financial Aid offices in the Tawa Center on the Holbrook campus to address privacy concerns when meeting with students, create a more efficient use of office space and to improve record storage.
Navapache Construction received a $97,000 contract to remodel and update the restrooms in the Ponderosa Center on the Show Low campus. The Ponderosa Center was built in 1995. Work will begin on both projects at the end of the current semester.
GeoDriven Consulting will provide a data analysis and audit under a six-month, extendable contract. The college has unsuccessfully searched for an institutional effectiveness director to oversee collecting and evaluating data needed in the accreditation process. This external review will help pinpoint improvements needed in data collection and analytics required by the college and multiple agencies.
Changes to the Early Childhood Studies degrees and certificates, and several policies regarding capital asset inventory, check-signing and disposal of surplus property were approved.
Vacancies in three key faculty positions, revising curriculum and offerings in Early Childhood Studies, and changes in inmate participation in classes at the Arizona Department of Corrections facility in Winslow contributed to a less than 0.1 percent decline in the number of students served during the spring 2017 semester compared to the previous year. Using the state's formula for calculating the Full Time Student Equivalent (FTSE), enrollment was down 3.1 percent compared to last spring. “We are confident this will turn around, especially as we fill some key faculty positions,” explained Vest during his enrollment report. “The grant-funded TALON Project, which takes NPC classes into area high school via technology, created a significant bump in dual enrollment numbers.”
Vest also gave an overview of the college's marketing efforts and challenges.
Board member George Joe reported on the Higher Learning Commission annual conference, where he had an opportunity to learn more about the board's overall responsibilities, their role in the accreditation process, the qualifications required for instructors. He recommended other members attend future conferences.
“We raised $22,424 for student scholarships in just 24 hours during Arizona Gives Day on April 4,” Betsyann Wilson, executive director of NPC Friends and Family, told the board during her monthly report. “The NPC family is fantastic, giving their financial support to our students.”
She also encouraged participation in the second annual Scramble Golf Tournament on Saturday, April 29, at the Silver Creek Golf Club. Registration and more information can be found online.
The monthly review of financials showed property tax revenue was comparable to previous years. Expenditures are below budget, in part due to the number of unfilled positions, noted CBO Ellison.
The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, May 16, beginning at 10 a.m., in the Tiponi Community Center on the Holbrook – Painted Desert Campus, 2251 E. Navajo Blvd. Copies of the agenda are posted onli/about-npc/public-notices/dgb-meeting-agendaminutesrecordingsne at least 24 hours in advance.
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