Part 2, Fair funding is the answer
The Fair Funding initiative has established that Butler County taxpayers are paying a disproportional amount of tax. We know that taxpayers are subsidizing 80% of BCC students that do not live in our county. Taxpayers are paying 20 mills, $14 million annually, with a disproportional return on investment. It’s simply unjust, unfair, and inexcusable.
Let’s look at two important issues – the economic impact of BCC in our county and its employment. Let’s put these issues within proper context. Two thirds of BCC students/credit hours come from three different ‘locations.’
1. Andover campuses (BCC’s largest student enrollment center).
2. Online courses
3. Locations in Sedgwick County
In fact, only 27% of all credit hours are taken at the main campus in El Dorado. If, as President Krull cites, South Central Kansas receives a positive economic impact of just less than $400 million, we can safely and conservatively assume that 60% of that impact flows right back to Sedgwick County where it originated. Why? First, the largest enrollment center located in Andover lies approximately one mile from the Sedgwick County line. Around this facility, you will find no student housing. You will find no expansion of the hospitality industry. The private sector is really great, and quick, to respond to an economic need or vacuum. If the Andover facility was bringing economic growth back to our County – we would see it! Where is this $400 million in annual economic growth and benefit? Instead, the majority of the 60 % of BCC’s enrollment commute from Sedgwick County to Butler County to tatke one or two classes. In the vast majority of cases, students do not relocate; instead, they choose BCC because of its close proximity to their work or home.
As for the employees of BCC, many of whom are my friends, we are happy you are here! There has been no suggestion of a staffing reduction because there’s no suggestion to decrease funding. We have suggested funding be fairly appropriated through either increasing out-of-county tuition or through other innovative and efficient efforts. Regardless of how the Trustees choose to proceed, we are grateful to each of you and what you bring to our communities.
However, because Butler County taxpayers pay over $14 million annually in property tax to the college – a significant number of jobs are created directly by the taxpayers. And since 80% of those jobs benefit out-of-county students, it’s only right that a fairer proportion of those jobs be funded by out-of-county students NOT tax dollars. Growing employment through taxpayer dollars should not be the objective. Growing our economy in the private sector should be our objective. Bottomline: use Butler County taxpayer funds and Butler County out-of-county students fees and tuition to fund jobs in Butler County and use higher out-of-county fees and tuitions to fund the out-of-county students’ needs.
That’s a win-win for Butler County and for BCC!
President Krull, in a Power Point presentation on May 23, shared that BCC has 1446 total employees and 582 live in our county (these numbers fluctuate by as much as 10% depending on where cited by BCC). This proves my point yet again – 60% of the wages and multiplying effect resulting from BCC jobs are going OUTSIDE our County. We are grateful and glad 40% of BCC employees choose to live in our County. The others may want to avoid high taxes!
Fortunately, the Board of Trustees has many options that would allow property tax reduction and advance their educational mission:
Increase out-of-county tuition.
Further increase on-line fees, which approved rates for 2018-2019 are 1/6 of WSU’s on-line fees, that provide convenience to the consumer.
Discontinue using Butler County tax dollars to build or lease properties or make other capital investments outside our County.
Innovate more competitive solutions.
Apply readily available monies from BCC’s unencumbered funds to reduce the levy.
Reduce BCC’s nearly $10 million of extracurricular spending to an amount that is self-sustaining.
Just imagine if BCC did all of this (or even some of this), they could provide FREE tuition for all in-county students and still cut our mill levy in half!
Solutions exist. And, so do excuses. Let’s move forward with solutions that are fair to Butler County taxpayers and encourage, not stifle, economic growth within our county. For Butler County to grow economically, we need the 20-mill disparity between Butler County and Sedgwick County to be greatly reduced.
Taxpayers of Butler County are tired of paying 20 mills for only 20% of BCC’s enrollment coming from our county. Conversely, Sedgwick County pays ZERO BCC mills and their students make up 60% of BCC’s enrollment – I’m sure they appreciate our generosity.
Let’s work together to grow our private sector economy. A BCC 20-mill differential hinders our competitive growth.
Butler County taxpayers and voters deserve better. It’s a local issue, a local levied mill rate, with a local solution.
Fair funding – that’s the answer.