Kilgore College chief: Tuition hike led to balanced budget

Kilgore College President Brenda Kays addresses the board of trustees Monday night during a budget workshop. Trustees will vote on the budget Aug. 12.

KILGORE — The president of Kilgore College said a tuition increase approved earlier in the spring proved a big help when college administrators got to work on the budget this summer.

“Without exception, one piece of prebudget work made it easier to balance this year’s budget and meet the rising costs associated with conducting business at the college, and that was the tuition and fee increase approved by the college board in March of 2019,” President Brenda Kays said.

Members of the board of trustees and administrators discussed a proposed budget for 2019-20 at a Monday night meeting.

The tuition increase, which takes effect this fall, will raise in-district rates from $79 per credit hour to $86. It will raise out-of-district tuition rates from $158 per hour to $165 and out-of-state rates from $185 to $215.

Trustees said the increase, the sixth in the past six years, was needed to help offset a downturn in state funding.

Kays said area health insurance costs remained stable, and property tax revenues increased by about $340,000.

She said 50 percent of the revenue increase will go to fund college repairs and maintenance.

She also credited board-approved short-term training investments leading to more students enrolling in continuing education courses, which brought in increased tuition and fee revenues.

Kays cited the McKinstry project, an $18 million campuswide renovation underway to replace old HVAC systems with the promise of energy savings.

Kays said the college bundles its utilities, which will make it easier to track any savings when the project wraps up next spring and the first payment is made in May to the State Energy Conservation Office.

The proposed budget includes a 1.5% pay increase for campus staff, totaling about $225,000, Kays said.

The budget includes various allocations to keep the college on track with goals outlined in its Strategic Plan, including $40,000 to pay tutors staffing newly created tutoring and writing labs.

The budget includes $15,000 for texting software to send out mass messages to students about important college dates, including registration deadlines and events.

In a funding increase of $12,151, Kilgore College Police Department officers’ base salary would be raised to $38,000 in an effort to slow turnover.

The budget allocates $84,000 for a campuswide safety and a security audit to identify and correct potential safety issues.

Additional security cameras are planned across the campus, and the audit will consider the installation of additional fencing around instructional locations.

Kays also referred to needed improvements to the Kilgore and Longview campuses’ wireless internet infrastructure, a project the college has been working on for some time.

“While we have made strides, we definitely are not there yet,” Kays said, adding students expect to have reliable, high-speed internet access while on the campuses.

“It is not an amenity; it is an expectation,” she said.

Trustees will vote on the proposed budget and the tax rate at their next scheduled board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 in the McLaurin Administration Building. Carrington said no tax increase is planned.