Co-Lin requests more funding from county

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Editor’s note: Several numbers were initially reported incorrectly in the story below. The information is correct now. We regret the errors and are happy to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — Federal stimulus money cannot pad damage from state cuts Co-Lin suffered this year, so the college’s president, Ronald Nettles, requested a 10-percent increase in the amount of money the college receives from Adams County.

Both Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell and Nettles said such a request from Copiah-Lincoln Community College is becoming routine.

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Co-Lin received $793,395 in 2009-1010 from Adams County. Nettles requested an increase of approximately $79,339.

But Nettles said an increase is more necessary this year because extra funding from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act does not make up for state cuts.

The difference left the budget with a deficit of a little more than $1 million, but cuts and tuition increases have been made in order to balance the budget, Nettles said.

The state cut 14 percent or $1.6 million in funding for next year, Nettles said.

Nettles said Co-Lin received $495,000 extra in federal funding from ARRA. However this boost is temporary and will not help balance the next fiscal year’s budget.

Nettles said the college will make ends meet without the increase, if it is not granted.

“This isn’t going to make or break us. We’re going to move forward and plan ahead regardless,” Nettles said.

Tuition and enrollment are also on the rise, Nettles said. Nettles said enrollment is up 10 percent, with 3,631 students enrolled last fall, and 868 at the Natchez campus.

Tuition will cost $1,025 a semester this fall, up from $900.

While higher enrollment and tuition bring in more money, costs go up with enrollment, Nettles said.

Nettles said student tuition and fees account for more than state and local appropriations for the first time in the college’s history.

The shift in funding moves the financial burden on students and families.

“Community college is about providing access (and) providing opportunities for students who can’t afford to make those other choices,” Nettles said.

By law, Co-Lin can ask for six mils of local property taxes from the county. A maximum of three mils for operation, such as daily maintenance, and three mils for capital improvements, such as the construction of the new health and science center, is allowed.

Nettles said budget cuts already made include cuts to program services, utilities and library costs. He said he is trying to prevent cutting instructional services, especially since higher enrollment will require more instruction.

Nettles addressed the economic impact of Co-Lin on Adams County.

Nettles said 631 students from Adams County attend Co-Lin, with 584 at the Natchez campus.

College-wide, Co-Lin gives $1.7 million in financial aid, and spends money on academic scholarships to students who score higher than 26 on the ACT. The college also gives 13 private scholarships.

Nettles said a 41-percent increase in Co-Lin’s enrollment since 1995 marks significant growth of the college with a direct impact of $3.8 million in payroll and expenses in Adams County.

“The impact of college goes way beyond what’s going on in the classroom,” Nettles said.

Nettles said Lincoln County contributes the most property tax $1.1 million. Simpson County gives a little over a million. Copiah County gives $770,000. And Jefferson, Lawrence and Franklin counties contribute the least to the college.

Nettles also thanked the board of supervisors for their support in building a new health and science building, which he expects to open in early 2011 with a grand opening in March.