Janesville56.2°

BTC board OKs preliminary budget

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 19, 2011
— Property taxes to support Blackhawk Technical College are projected to rise by less than 1 percent next year.

The 117 members of the BTC faculty union, meanwhile, will see raises of 2 percent in each of the next two years, but they will also have to pay more for their benefits.


Administrators will get comparable raises in 2011-12.


The Blackhawk Tech Board on Wednesday night approved a preliminary budget for presentation at a public hearing. Final approval will come later this year.


The board also approved the faculty contract.


Lawmakers cast a shadow over both votes. The budget assumes that Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed cut in state aid and a freeze on the portion of the levy used for operational purposes will be passed.


The director of the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association told the board that action at today’s session of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee would likely determine whether those budget restrictions would remain in place or whether technical colleges would catch a break.


The association’s Paul Gabriel said several of the majority-Republican senators on the finance committee appear to support more funding for technical colleges, but the Republican Assembly members are solidly against changes.


“Most hope is lost, but all hope is not lost,” Gabriel said.


The contract with the faculty union requires members to pay half of their pension contributions and 12 percent of their health-insurance premiums, in line with what Walker proposed in the budget repair bill, a measure that is still being challenged in courts.


Gabriel said much or all of the budget repair bill language is likely to be incorporated in the biennial budget bill.


The board approved the contract on a unanimous vote with little discussion.


Board member Victor Gonzalez said lack of discussion did not reflect the board’s level of interest. He indicated the board had extensive previous discussion about it.


“It’s clear we understand what’s going on, and we’re moving forward,” Gonzalez said.


Gonzalez repeated the statement when the board approved 2.08 percent increases for administrative staff in 2011-12. A $121,529 increase will be divided among 67 administrative staff members.


Board chairwoman Lauri Steeber said the board appreciates all the staff’s efforts in recent years as they took on added work to handle the influx of students.


BTC’s proposed budget will be the subject of a public hearing June 15, when the board meets for its regular meeting.


Other items from the 2011-12 budget include:


-- The district would levy $20.04 million taxes from property owners in the district, which includes most of Rock and Green counties. That’s about a 0.7 percent increase from this year’s $19.88 million.


All of the tax increase would go to pay off district debt.


-- Operational spending would be $31.77 million, down 0.4 percent from this year’s 31.89 million.


-- State aid is projected to decline by $1.45 million.


-- Overall salary and benefits costs would rise by 4.5 percent, or $1.04 million. The increase reflects, in part, hiring of new staff.


-- Tuition, set by a state board, will rise 4.5 percent. Revenue from tuition and fees would rise by $456,134, even with a projected 4 percent decline in enrollment.


-- The board agreed to take $1.02 million from its reserves, known as the operational fund balance, to pay for one-time expenses, including $626,875 to pay down debts.


-- The board would borrow $3.3 million in its annual capital projects bond issue. Part of that money would go to expand and remodel BTC’s Beloit Center, at a cost of $875,000.


Other business

In other business Wednesday, the BTC Board:


-- Awarded a three-year contract for janitorial services to Kleenmark of Madison at an annual cost of $366,396. Kleenmark bid the second-highest cost of four bidders. Officials had concerns that the lowest bidder would not provide adequate staffing and cleanliness. The contract is for all BTC buildings.


-- Approved a 2 percent increase in wages for non-teaching part-time staff, affecting 205 workers not represented by unions. The increase will cost $20,110.


-- Accepted the retirements of Allen Zimmerman, diesel and heavy equipment instructor, after 27 years of service to the district, and Eric Schwebke, electro-mechanical instructor, who served for 25.5 years.



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