In a relatively short, Monday meeting, the Weatherford College Board of Trustees approved a proposed tax rate and also changed the frequency of when it will meet in the 2014-15 school year.
Trustees approved a proposal to maintain the current ad valorem tax rate of 11.464 cents per $100 valuation for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The rate includes 10.741 cents for maintenance and operation expenses and 0.723 cents for debt services.
WC President Dr. Kevin Eaton and Andra Cantrell, Vice President of Financial and Administrative Affairs, both stressed that this is the same tax rate from this year but that due to increases in property appraisal values, the college expects to bring in about $400,000 more in tax revenue in the coming fiscal year as compared to 2013-14.
“At 11.464 cents, our tax rate is a full nickel below the state average for community college districts,” Eaton pointed out. “We have one of the lowest tax rates in the state of Texas as it is.”
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While Frank Martin, Don Allen, Dr. Luke Haynes and Mac Smith voted for the proposed rate, Joel Watson voted against it wondering aloud if the rate could be lowered to help the taxpayer and then use reserves if needed.
“You wouldn’t want to do that,” Eaton advised, adding that dipping into contingency funds creates its own set of headaches.
Because of the increase in revenue, two public hearings need to be held. One was scheduled on Tuesday and the other is at 5 p.m. on Friday. The Board is expected to take a final vote on the budget and tax rate at a meeting at noon on Aug. 28. The new budget, at a current proposed amount of $54.7 million, goes into effect Sept. 1.
The public can view a detailed proposed budget online at www.wc.edu/wc-budget.
In other business, the board voted to change the frequency of its meetings, going to six regular meetings rather than 12 in the new fiscal year. The board will meet in even-numbered months with the option of called meetings when needed. Eaton said he solicited opinions from other college presidents in the state and of the 24 who responded, only one said they met on a monthly basis.
After some discussion as to the benefit of the change, trustees agreed and voted unanimously for the move. The board will now meet in October, December, February, April, June and August.
The board also heard the annual report on GED Testing in Eaton’s President’s Report. Because of impending changes in the test last year, there was a record number of students taking the exam. Lela Morris with the WC Testing Center said that 1,575 people took the test last year as opposed to only 71 this year. She added that last year’s revenue from the tests was $60,000 as opposed to only $1,968 this year.
“The test is now totally computer based and it is much harder,” Morris said.
She also said that the Texas Education Agency is no longer associated with the test and that WC does nothing more than administer the test. The number Morris gave did not include the Wise County campus, which is also authorized to give the test. Morris said they expect the numbers to rise as people become accustomed to the new test.
Eaton also presented an enrollment update, stating that the total enrollment for the two 2014 summer sessions was 2,878 students, a slight decrease compared to 2013. He said early indications for the fall of 2014 indicate similar numbers as compared to the record-setting fall of 2013, which totaled 5,717 students at all of WC’s sites.