Butler Community College President Dr. Kim Krull, Ph.D, told the Butler County Board of Commissioners that the BCC Board iof Trustees is seeking more funding at the state level as an alternative to local mil levy funding.
Krull explained that about $580 million of state education aide goes to the seven Kansas Board of Regents universities while the 19 community colleges and seven technical schools in Kansas divvy up $160 million.
Krull and the Board of Trustees were visiting the commissioners at their regular meeting on Tuesday morning in El Dorado because the county commission was taking action on “a Resolution of Support for a Reduction of the Butler Community College Property Tax Levy”.
That resolution passed 4-0. District 4 Commissioner Mike Wheeler did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Wheeler has frequently called the resolution “toothless” since the first time it was placed as an agenda action item on April 24.
The county commission has no authority over the board of trustees. During the commissioners’ monologues the same message was expressed: the college mil levy is what their constituents complain about the most, by far.
Commission chair Dan Woydziak, District 5, said the suggestion of the commission is for the Trustees to find a way to lower the mil levy rate by 5 mils.
District 3 Commissioner Ed Myers said the commissioners are not trying to direct the college, but is hoping to work to find an alternative funding stream.
District 2 Commissioner Marc Murphy said that he is contacted about the issue of the college mil levy way more than any other issue in the county.
District 1 Commissioner Jeff Materson said he was in complete support of the resolution and finding an alternative funding stream.
Butler Community College is the third largest community college in the state with a 2017 enrollment of 12,895. Johnson County Community College in the largest with 29,661 students in 2017. Barton Community College enrolled 14,736 students in 2017.
In 2017, according to Kansas Board of Regents data, Butler Community College had the fourth lowest mil levy at 20.063 mils. Johnson County had the lowest mil rate at 9.473.
Butler County’s total population is about 67,878 according to the United Census Bureau July 1, 2017 estimates. Johnson County’s estimated population is 591,178.
Coffeyville Community College has the highest local mil levy rate with 41.919.
From 2011 to 2017 Seward County Community College has made the biggest increases to its mil levy rate amongst community college. The rate increased from 26.892 to 37.039, a 37.7 percent change.
BCC increased its mil levy from 18.008 in 2011 to 20.063 in 2017, according to Board of Regents data. That is an 11.4 percent change.
Since 2011, 15 of the 19 of the community colleges has raised their mil levies. Cowley Community College decreased its mil from 20.219 to 18.99, a 6.1 percent drop.
Pratt Community College dropped its mil rate from 40.091 to 39.641, a 1.1 percent drop.
Labette Community College dropped its rate 0.8 percent from 2011 to 2017 from 35.577 mils to 35.3.
Highland Community College dropped its mil from 14.648 to 14.171 a -3.3 percent change.
The two other community colleges that share a border with Sedgwick County are Cowley Community College and Hutchinson Community College. Both college mil levies are comparable to Butler’s.
Hutchinson’s served 8,914 students in 2017 and had a mil levy rate of 22.442. Cowley County had 3,876 students in 2017 with a mil rate of 18.990.
The resolution is uploaded online at butlercountytimesgazette.com.
During the public comment part of the meeting, former El Dorado City Manager Herb Llewellyn told the commission to let the college do its job and that he thinks the mil levy should be raised because the areas in Kansas that are seeing growth are the areas with the highest mil levies.
“People want services,” Llewellyn said.
In other business the county commission:
-opened several bids for projects, including a culvert letting south of Rosalia, the hot-mix surfacing project of Rose Hill Road (aka Butler Road/Andover Road) through Rose Hill, and a project at the Butler County Landfill to expand the Leachate recirculation system.
-held a work session with Sheriff Kelly Herzet and other members of the Butler County Sheriff’s Department on detention fees and corrections officer retention fees for the Butler County Adult Detention Center.
-held a work session on short term and long term commission goals.