With a levy renewal and increase on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, Cuyahoga Community College is looking to cover operating costs in order to continue providing students with an affordable education, according to school administrators.
Issue 3, which will be on ballots across Cuyahoga County, asks for a renewal of the college’s current tax levy, plus an increase, which would cover operating costs. Tri-C President Alex Johnson explained that the levy on the ballot covers the operations of the college, but does not cover any capital improvements like buildings or campus updates.
Issue 3 is a renewal of 1.9 mills and an increase of 0.4 mills to constitute a tax for the benefit of the Cuyahoga Community College District for operating costs. This levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 property an additional $14 annually, added to the current $131 for a total of $145 beginning in 2020 and lasting 10 years. A “yes” vote means approval of the proposed levy. A “no” vote would mean rejection of the proposed levy, which would reject both the increase and the original levy resulting in the college receiving no property tax from residents.
Operating costs include the day-to-day functions of the college’s campuses, from salaries and benefits to utilities. The increase to the levy will help with these operating costs, which continue to increase. Dr. Johnson said that the increase will cost each household an average of only $1.17 every month.
Tri-C also only collects about 5 cents out of every taxable dollar in the county, Dr. Johnson said. “We are essentially very self-sufficient and we do our best to use our resources wisely,” he added.
The tax levy currently covers 48 percent of the college’s annual budget, with 29 percent of the budget coming from the state and 23 percent coming from student tuition and fees, according to Dr. Johnson.
With the levy covering a large portion of the budget, Dr. Johnson said it “allows us to keep education affordable.” At other colleges in Ohio, he said, the average amount of the budget that is covered by student tuition and fees is 57 percent.
Tri-C provides both degrees and credentials to students, with 4,300 students graduating and 19,300 receiving certifications for the 2018-19 academic year, according to Dr. Johnson. About 85 percent of the students who graduate from Tri-C live and work in Northeast Ohio, he added, and the college maintains close relationships with area businesses and manufacturing companies.
Dr. Johnson said that the tax dollars the community invests in the college have a significant return value, both in dollar amount and the support of the area’s workforce. “For every tax dollar invested, the return is more than $9.40,” he said.
Dr. Johnson said that the college provides not only education, but other services like transportation to its students, as many come from less-than-affluent backgrounds and need extra help. Having the levy to cover operating costs is a way the community can continue contributing to helping students succeed and move on to filling jobs in the community, he concluded.