Three Rivers approves budget for next year

Thursday, June 28, 2012

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- The Three Rivers College Board of Trustees approved during Tuesday's monthly meeting a $22.9 million operating budget for the next fiscal year. The budget contains no planned deficit spending or surplus revenue.

President Dr. Devin Stephenson said the budget sets about $166,000 aside for a possible 4 percent withholding in state funds. This was wise, he explained, in light of Gov. Jay Nixon's recent announcement of what amounts to a 1 percent cut for higher education.

"I firmly believe by the middle of the year, there will be another withholding," Stephenson said after the trustees meeting.

It is fortunate for the college, he continued, that the ever-shrinking state appropriations makes up only 17 percent or almost $4 million of its annual revenue, with 50 percent or $11.4 million coming from tuition and fees. This is the third straight year of state cuts.

"What concerns me most is if we continue on this track, by 2036, we will not have state money for higher education," Stephenson said.

There is something wrong with that picture, according to Stephenson, as community colleges' role in job creation in Missouri is increasingly being recognized and Three Rivers in particular is seeing tremendous growth. Enrollment at Three Rivers has increased 41 percent in the past five years and is expected to meet or exceed last spring's record enrollment of more than 4,300 students.

The majority of jobs require certificates and degrees that can be received through a two-year institution, rather than needing a degree from a four-year school, Stephenson said.

"We are going to raise awareness on this and how important community colleges are in job creation with [our legislators]," he said.

The approved budget begins with the July 1 start of the 2013 fiscal year. It also takes 11 percent or nearly $2.5 million of its revenue from sales and services, including the bookstore and student housing. Another 8 percent or about $1.8 million comes from property taxes, and 6 percent, almost $1.3 million, from federal grants.

Expenses from fiscal year 2012 to 2013 are similar, chief financial officer Charlotte Eubank told trustees during the board meeting.

Salary and benefits equal 57 percent, about $13 million, of the budget, 2 percent less than last year. Operating expenses have increased by 3 percent, to 33 percent, almost $7.5 million. Scholarships have shrunk by 1 percent to 6 percent, nearly $1.4 million.

It includes, for instance, $261,000 in technology needs related to the Academic Resources Common, which is expected to be complete in the spring of 2013, Vice President of Learning Dr. Wes Payne said later. Other projects have been completed or are winding down and departments no longer need as much funding, such as the document imaging initiative in the student success department.

"It's up and down across the numerous budgets of the college," he said.

Expenses related to instruction dropped by 1 percent to $6.6 million or 29 percent of the budget, while institution support increased 2 percent to about $4 million or 18 percent of costs. Academic support and students services are unchanged at 8 percent ($1.9 million) and 11 percent ($2.4 million) respectively. Both auxiliary enterprises (includes student housing and bookstore) and operation and maintenance expenses are budgeted at 12 percent, around $2.7 million. This is a 1 percent drop for auxiliary enterprises and a 3 percent increase for operation and maintenance.

Grants make up 7 percent of budgeted expenses at nearly $1.7 million.

"It looks pretty thorough to me. I have no questions," Trustee Darren Garrison said, after the budget was presented by Eubank.

Board members previously reviewed the budget and provided comments during a workshop June 11. Chairman Randy Winston said the budget had been tweaked nicely.

The budget was approved after a closed session meeting, during which trustees said personnel matters related to the budget needed to be discussed.

Pertinent address:

2080 Three Rivers Blvd., Poplar Bluff, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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