Butler Community College’s proposed Welcome Center could be in a tight position, possibly pushing back the original plans to have it open for fall 2009. With unexpected crunches cinching up the school’s budget, the center could be looking at a completion date in 2011.


Butler Community College’s proposed Welcome Center could be in a tight position, possibly pushing back the original plans to have it open for fall 2009. With unexpected crunches cinching up the school’s budget, the center could be looking at a completion date in 2011.

Monday evening, Kent Williams, vice president of finance, spoke to the Board of Trustees during a special meeting about the issues they could face.

“The budget situation right now is leaner than we had anticipated, even a couple of months ago,” Williams said. “There are several factors that we’ve been counting on.”

Among those factors is the Kansas Board of Regents’ recommendation to expect a 3.4 percent increase in state funding. Now the legislature appears poised to approve an increase between 1.2 and 2.4 percent.

Additional costs have also cropped up in surveying the infrastructure demands for the Welcome Center. Namely, a $600,000 hike to fix an issue with concrete discovered under the existing asphalt where the building is planned.

The interest rate decline put a dent in Butler’s projected interest incomes. Even the college bookstore sales have slumped, leaving holes in the budget.

“We think that’s maybe due to competition or student buying habits,” Williams said. “So we’re investigating that.”

All in all, the pressure is on to spend wisely, especially given the board’s seeming opposition to pushing the project back. Several trustees wondered if the increased construction cost to complete the project in 2011 was comparable to the already increasing costs.

“We know the cost is going to go up substantially, it has to,” said Trustee Dalton Patterson.

Based on the trustees’ questions, Williams plans to bring more options to the board at its May 13 regular meeting.

“The trustees would like to look at the options of bringing [the center] online, but it may or may not be possible,” Williams said.

The Welcome Center – which would become the college’s face to the community and will house administration offices, as well as the Butler Foundation – is being designed for erection between Haverhill and the core of the campus.

“It became the number one project because that’s what people wanted to give [donations] to,” Williams said.