Leaders of New Idaho Community College Propose Scaled-back Budget

NAMPA, Idaho

Administrators for Idaho’s newest college, scheduled to open in January, have proposed cutting a quarter of the school’s budget to avoid breaking a promise to voters to keep property taxes down.

The cuts to the College of Western Idaho based in Nampa would see the 2009 budget drop from $16 million to $12 million, a move that would require the school to reduce the amount of classroom space in local high schools and delay hiring about eight support staff.

Administrators at a Monday meeting with the school’s Board of Trustees also recommended reducing the 2010 budget from $18.1 million to $16.9 million.

Voters in April 2007 approved the school’s creation as the state’s third community college. The others are North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene and the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.

Before the vote, backers of the new school promised to keep property taxes low. Some trustees said the promise to voters in Ada and Canyon counties was $11.39 per $100,000 of taxable value.

Board Chairman Jerry Hess said last month that the board might have to back away from the promise to offer a top-notch community college.

The board did not make a decision on the cuts at its meeting. Hess said the board will have to consider “the financial consequence to the institution,” the Idaho Statesman reported.

Other cuts being considered include eliminating three administrative assistant positions, a director for the school’s Canyon County Center, dropping a full-time librarian, and golf carts to be used to travel between the school and a business complex where administrators are planning to rent space.

Part of the school’s revenue plan is getting 1,700 students when it opens in January, bringing in about $1.9 million.

School officials plan a marketing campaign they say will add 1,000 new students to about 700 students who are transferring from other schools.

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