Community college asks for more county funding

By Vicki Hyatt | Apr 22, 2014

During a recent budget work session, Haywood Community College leaders requested a 16.5 percent budget hike from the county for the coming fiscal year.

The increase, if granted, would raise the county’s contribution to current operations and capital outlay from $2.35 million to $2.74 million.

A priority for additional county funds will be to hire an in-house small projects construction coordinator— something Brek Lanning, the college’s director of campus development,  said will save money in the long-term.

He referenced the cost of three small projects done in the past four months, which if done in-house, could have paid for the construction coordinator for an entire year.

Another requested increase would cover a professional service contracts for custodial work and an armed resource officer through the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office. Commissioners asked for clarification on the sheriff’s contract since they understood the agreement signed earlier in the year would be covered through other college funds, not a budget increase through the county.

The largest request is for capital outlay where the college is asking for the current $250,000 appropriation to be doubled.

Counties in which community colleges are located share responsibilities for institutional support. The state covers salaries and administration costs while the counties pay for maintenance  and capital improvements.

Much of the extra requested capital improvement  funds would be used to repair roads, curbs and sidewalks, 75 percent which are original to the 50-year-old campus, Lanning said.

While the commissioners expressed support for the college and the plans for the coming year, they cautioned college leaders present at the work session of the tough economic climate ahead.

“I don’t think anything you’re asking for is unreasonable,” said Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick. “Unfortunately, anything anyone asks for that is an increase will require a tax increase. There’s no way around that.”

Commissioner Mike Sorrells pointed out the county’s  revenue picture is “relatively flat at best. All you have presented is  very important and we’ll sure try and look at it, but I’m not sure what we can do. There’s only one way to get additional revenue and it is not a very popular thing to do.”