Pima College taxes, tuition to rise as enrollment falls

2014-05-15T17:00:00Z 2014-07-13T15:50:39Z Pima College taxes, tuition to rise as enrollment fallsBy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Plunging enrollment is expected to take a $10 million toll on Pima Community College next school year, and students and taxpayers will pay more as a result.

The college’s Governing Board gave unanimous approval this week to a draft budget that includes a 2 percent increase in primary property taxes, a 7.6 percent tuition hike for in-state students and a 3 percent increase to the salary pool for regular PCC employees.

The 2014-15 plan also includes about $4 million in spending to help reverse years of mismanagement that occurred under PCC’s previous leadership.

The owner of a $100,000 house would pay about $133 next year toward college operations, about $2 more than they do now.

A full-time, in-state student will pay about $150 more to study at the college, bringing the annual tab for basic tuition to $2,115.

Together, the tax and tuition increases will add about $5 million to PCC’s coffers.

Even so, the college’s total income is poised to drop by about $18 million. That’s due in large part to a projected $10 million drop in federal financial aid that PCC won’t get because fewer students are enrolling.

The college, which is under a probation sanction imposed by its accreditor for mismanagement and lax governance, has been losing students at a much faster rate than other two-year schools even as efforts are underway to fix past problems.

PCC’s spring enrollment fell 10 percent this year, for example, while spring declines at similar schools averaged 2.7 percent nationally, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a nonprofit that tracks such data.

Besides raising taxes and tuition, PCC has found internal savings that will help pay for next year’s needs.

The school recently switched to a self-funded plan for medical and pharmacy benefits, saving about $2 million, and is cutting spending at PCC headquarters by about $1.5 million to transfer those resources to its campuses.

Spending priorities for the coming year include improvements to campus policing, financial aid counseling and academic advising and creation of a new office for handling complaints from students, employees and taxpayers.

College governors are expected to approve a final budget at their June 11 meeting.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo

at calaimo@azstarnet.com or 573-4138.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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