CHEYENNE – Laramie County Community College leadership is cautiously optimistic about the year ahead.
The college’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the school’s 2019-20 budget at a Monday meeting, moving forward a total tentative budget of about $90.6 million, up $11.4 million from last year’s $79.2 million.
Unrestricted and one-mill funds are estimated to be $48.6 million this year, up from $46.6 million last year.
“Our budget environment has stabilized somewhat from the tumultuous past few years,” LCCC President Joe Schaffer said in the budget’s introduction. “However, because uncertainty remains about the future, LCCC continued to take a very conservative approach to building this budget.”
Schaffer said local funding for the school continues to increase as a result of steady economic growth and Laramie County’s higher assessed value, but Wyoming’s economic uncertainty and reliance on a fickle energy sector creates challenges. School administration anticipates an increase of nearly $1 million in local funding from increased assessed values, but are faced with an offsetting loss of nearly $1 million in state funds.
“That said, we are also optimistic that the local valuations in the other districts are improving, and that will result in additional funds shifting to LCCC sometime in fiscal year 2020,” Schaffer said.
Other areas of financial growth this year may come from increased tuition rates and improvement in student outcomes. Tuition rates are increasing this year from $94 per credit to $99 per credit for resident students. The shift in the tuition cap from 12 credits to 15 credits should also provide additional tuition revenue. The school expects to see about $800,000 in additional tuition revenue as a result.
The budget includes a general fund operating reserve of approximately $307,000 and a One Mill Fund reserve of about $41,000, which will provide funding in three areas, and serve as a buffer in the event the increased tuition, along with the movement of the tuition cap, reduces overall enrollment.
Some of the revenue will go to new hires, market-based salary increases and capital investment; millions more will be dedicated to “plant operations,” such as exterior building renovations, maintenance projects and roof replacements.
“I think this budget strikes an appropriate balance for students and the community,” said LCCC Trustee Janine Thompson. “And we have a lot of exciting changes coming up. We invite the community to come out, see all of the renovations and look for new programs.”