NWC President Paul Prestwich told the board that is because the county's valuation for the Northwest College District's tax revenue this year actually is calculated on figures from last year when oil still was selling high on the market, and not …
Changes in local revenue estimate mean $1.15 million for Northwest CollegeAfter months of intense planning for a $1 million-plus budget cut for the coming school year, Northwest College officials recently learned they won't have to deal with a decline in revenue this year after all.
NWC President Paul Prestwich told the board that is because the county's valuation for the Northwest College District's tax revenue this year actually is calculated on figures from last year when oil still was selling high on the market, and not later, when the oil market dropped.
“In Park County, the big player is primarily oil,” he said.
Both figures came from Park County Assessor Doug Brandt.
Prestwich said on Friday the new estimate means the Northwest College District will receive about $1.15 million more in local tax revenue than it received last year.
That is good news, especially since the college still is bracing for a cut in state funding, predicted to be at least 10 percent.
“The 10-percent cut from the state would be about $1.1 million, so we're anticipating it being about a wash,” Prestwich said.
That's a far cry from the previous projected revenue shortfall of at least $875,000.
But the good news is only temporary, he said, as the college's local tax revenue is predicted to fall by at least as much next year as it increases this year, and the state funding cut likely will remain as well.
With that in mind, “Our short-term plan is still the same,” Prestwich said. “We're looking to invest in ways that can help us in the long term. We're looking at things that will be helpful in serving students.”
Because of a state law limiting colleges' budgeted reserves to 8 percent of their revenue, any money that exceeds that limit cannot be saved as a hedge against the economic downturn everyone knows is coming next year, Prestwich said.
“The increased revenue means the 8 percent increases,” he said. “Without that, we would have had to decrease the reserves to meet that 8-percent limit.”
“My goal is that we don't dip below that (8 percent),” he said. “However, we need to invest and make sure we're prepared for the future.
“We're not taking anything off the table. We know we're going to have to spend some money.”
Prestwich said the governor is expected to announce his plans for statewide budget cuts on or around June 1.
“We will have a better idea of the final picture then, and we can really establish a budget for fiscal year 10 that will be pretty accurate,” Prestwich said.
This year's scramble to deal with revenue ups and downs — or downs and ups — likely will leave the college in a stronger position to deal with next year's expected economic trials, Prestwich said.