Kilgore College trustees voted to adopt a leaner budget and an unchanged tax rate at a regular board meeting Monday night.
Larry Woodfin, Chair of the Investment/Finance/Audit Committee, announced the Fiscal Year 2021 balanced budget had been crafted to account for lower college revenues. KC, along with many other Kilgore businesses and organizations, is facing budget shortfalls related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as local businesses have reported significantly reduced revenues, leading to lower tax revenues.
“This is opposed to a normal 105,000 semester-hour budget,” Woodfin said.
“This is optimized for a 95,000 semester-hour budget. We felt like that was a reasonable reference. In order to deal with the decline in credit enrollment, property taxes and other revenues, the college has decreased its operating expenses by $2,759,598.”
By comparison, KC’s FY 2020 projected budget of $37,954,204 was an increase of $1,528,975 over the previous year. Cutting more than $2 million from the budget was no easy feat, according to board memebers.
“This was a pretty tough budget to put together,” said board president Joe Carrington. Carrington congratulated KC President Dr. Brenda Kays and members of the finance committee for finding a path to a balanced budget in a highly unusual financial year.
“Lots of sweat happened over this deal,” Woodfin said.
Following the budget presentation, board members moved to adopt an unchanged tax rate. Despite lower revenues, Woodfin said, the leaner budget will allow the tax rate to remain the same as previous years.
“In our August meeting, we voted to set the tax rate at 17.5 cents per $100 valuation. We have now adopted the budget for the fiscal year ending on Aug. 31, 2021 and the next step is to consider adopting this tax rate. Also, you will recall from that August meeting, the proposed rate is unchanged and has remained constant since September of 2015.”
Woodfin added the tax rate adoption would take into account a decline in appraised values in the college’s tax district. The lowered values mean the college will take in $107,554 less in property tax revenues compared to the previous year.
Trustees voted unanimously to adopt both the budget and unchanged tax rate.
The unchanged tax rate may mean a bit of financial relief for Kilgore residents, many of whom are experiencing their own personal budget shortfalls as COVID-19 led to the temporary shutdown of many local businesses. The oil and gas industry, which makes up a sizable chunk of Kilgore’s economic picture, was hit hard by the pandemic, with oil prices plummeting earlier this year.
KC’s decision to leave the tax rate unaltered mirrors the City of Kilgore’s move to keep the city tax rate steady. Both institutions turned to cutting expenses as an alternative to hiking tax rates on Kilgore residents as the community continues to navigate uncharted waters in a worldwide pandemic.