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Good news, bad news at VC board meeting

By KBell
Aug. 8, 2011 at 3:08 a.m.
Updated Aug. 9, 2011 at 3:09 a.m.


FINE ARTS BUILDING

The facilities committee of the VC Board of Trustees met before the regular meeting Monday to discuss the renovation of the Fine Arts building.

The renovation will make the building more accessible for students with disabilities; enlarge and improve areas for band, choir, art and ceramics; create an outdoor performance area; and provide opportunity for future growth.

Rawley McCoy presented drawings to the committee that showed renovated rooms as well as new construction and the demolition of the auditorium.

The demolition could begin in October, with the rest of the project coming in phases that allow the college to still use the classrooms.

The project is expected to cost about $2.5 million, which come from VC's bond-funded construction projects.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Public hearings to discuss VC tax rate

WHEN: Aug. 22 and Aug. 29

WHERE: Victoria College corporate meeting room, Academic Building, 2200 E. Red River St.

While the state continues to threaten education budgets, Victoria College's comeback could be its growth in enrollment.

Trustees said it was a good news, bad news scenario at a special board meeting Tuesday during which the board approved its budget and proposed next year's tax rate.

The good news is that enrollment is increasing.

Patricia Vandervoort, the college's vice president of instruction, said enrollment is up 22 percent so far this year compared to the same time last year. About 4,000 students have already signed up for classes, a jump Vandervoort attributed partly to earlier registration.

Registration continues and is shaping up to surpass last year's fall enrollment of 4,323 students.

"We anticipate enrollment to continue to incline. We think we're on the move in a very good way," Vandervoort told the board.

In response to its growth, the college is offering some Saturday classes and an expanded evening program.

A few minutes after Vandervoort's report, VC President Tom Butler broke the bad news.

With the funding cuts from the state, the Employee Retirement System of Texas colleges must repay some money they had drawn down from the benefits agency.

With only four weeks left in this fiscal year, VC will pay back $156,157 to the system. The money will come from the school's reserve fund and could be offset by August book store sales, Butler said.

"This completely took us all by surprise, but I think it's kind of a sign of the times," Butler said.

The college will continue to plan for unforeseen costs stemming from a strained state budget.

"There are a lot of uncertainties for us in the coming year, and in the next legislation, we may be fighting the same battles we had to fight this year," Butler said. "We have to be flexible enough to respond to those things as they come up."

The retirement fund adjustments were already worked in to the 2011-12 budget.

The board unanimously approved the $28.7 million operating budget, which reflects $1.8 million in state cuts.

The budget also includes a 2 percent salary increase, an increase in adjunct professor pay, higher tuition and spending cuts.

The rest of the funds would come from a higher tax rate of 16.06 cents per $100 of property value. The proposed tax rate is up from the current rate of 15.3 cents.

If they had not raised the rate, the 2011-12 budget would have been short $352,141.

The tax bill on a home valued at $100,000 would increase about $6.40 from $153 to $160.60.

The board is proposing a higher rate and must hold two public hearings and another meeting before the rate is adopted.

Taxes are expected to generate about $8.2 million in revenue.

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