After voters soundly rejected a $369-million bond issue, SCC’s Board of Governors approved the maximum two-cents allowed by law.
Board President Dale Kruse says it will help start paying for a master facilities plan on campuses in Beatrice, Milford and Lincoln.
“We’ve looked at many different ways of how to approach this master plan,” Kruse says. “We have a shortage in this state of skilled workers that we need to try and fill and the community college is the place to get that done. We have a number of our programs that can fill those needs are full and have a waiting list.”
One other option is to increase state budget support for community college facilities, which Kruse says is a discussion that’s been ongoing.
Kruse says, “Nothing has happened over the last few years and we felt like we couldn’t wait much longer to try and fill that gap of the lack of skilled workers in the state.”
He says there’s also an issue with the overall age of SCC facilities.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is calling on the college to reconsider the increase in the capital levy. The organization was joined by former Governor Dave Heineman, officials from the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Soybean Association, Lincoln Independent Business Association and a Lincoln City Councilman.
State Senators Laura Ebke of Crete, Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, Curt Friesen of Henderson and former Senator Jerry Johnson of Wahoo, also back reconsideration of the tax increase.
SCC has undertaken the start of learning centers in communities in those senators’ districts. Kruse says he doesn’t sense a willingness by the board to scale back what’s already been approved.
“That was discussed at length for at least a couple of months, if not more, as the administration was bringing options to the board to look at the pros and cons,” Kruse says. “When it finally came down to a decision, the board was unanimous in going with the tax rate that was set.”
The SCC Board of Governors recently approved the college’s $250-million budget and a nine-cent total tax levy. That amounts to about $97 on $100,000 of taxable property, up almost $22 from the past year.
The SCC total tax rate is the second-lowest property tax rate of community colleges in Nebraska. Only Western Community College has a lower figure.
The tax rate increased from 7.52 cents last year, mostly because of the nearly one-cent increase in the SCC capital levy, to 2 cents.
Property valuation in the 15-county service area of SCC increased 4.4% this year. The school saw a 4% cut in state aid.
Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, in a written statement, said the organization has “received numerous calls and complaints from taxpayers across the SCC area.”
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice