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Taxes, salaries raised at Mohave Community College

Michael Kearns

KINGMAN - The board that oversees Mohave Community College approved a 2 percent property tax increase as well as raises for employees last week, but the school still faces a $3.3 million shortfall for the 2013-14 school year.

About a third of that will be made up by changes to other parts of the compensation package, and MCC president Michael Kearns said the rest will come from cuts in the operating budget that are still being prepared, as well as not filling current vacant staff and faculty positions at the college.

Kearns told board members the college can make it through the 2012-2013 school year in the black despite a $1.2 million shortfall from decreases in tuition and fees due to declining enrollment. The college was able to adjust construction and elective costs, such as travel, move staff around to stay on budget and keep unfilled staff positions vacant, he said.

But next year is a different story, said Kearns, because of a difference in revenue and increasing expenses in employee health insurance and benefits. Kearns said there is no funding stability on the state level for colleges, and tuition increases are being eaten up by insurance and benefit costs.

"We're very conscious of how our financial situation develops through the year due to changes in revenue," said Kearns. "Our trend line is moving in the wrong direction. We have an asset that is declining and a liability that is growing, so we have to do something that doesn't sacrifice more jobs or put us in jeopardy."

The 2012-2013 estimated revenue for the college, including upcoming summer school, is $33.3 million, while the estimated revenue for 2013-2014 is $31.34 million. Estimated expenses for 2013-2014 are $34.64 million.

The board passed a 2 percent increase in the property tax levy Friday that will generate $399,499 for the school. For a home valued at $100,000, the increase amounts to $2.26.

The board also approved a compensation and benefit proposal Friday that would reduce the budget $1.8 million and return $1.2 million to the budget shortfall. Staff and faculty reviewed the proposal for a week in March and provided feedback to the administration so changes could be made.

Jennifer Dixon, director of Human Resources, said the proposal includes a 2.4 percent increase for all faculty and staff as well as a $1,500 base increase in pay for faculty. Other compensation and benefit changes include reducing how quickly faculty leave builds up, creating a leave donation program, discontinuing the annual leave cash-out program and revising leave buyback to begin at 10 years of service.

"A lot of hard work and compromise went into this proposal, and the final outcome is much better now," said board member Judy Selberg. "We want to reward people for the work they are doing. We know how important morale is, but we also had to make some hard choices. Now we've put it to rest."

Board member Vance Miller agreed, congratulating the administration and staff on working together to come up with a satisfactory compromise.

"I think this proposal is very fair," he said. "There are always going to be people negatively affected by something like this, but we'll be putting the college in jeopardy if we don't do it. The proposal is good, and I appreciate what the administration has done to consider everyone."

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