Facts on finances at UNM-LA

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By The Staff

University of New Mexico Los Alamos Campus is fiscally autonomous from the UNM-Albuquerque campus. Our fiscal relationship is clearly defined in the following statement: “Under the Operating Agreement between the Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico and the Advisory Board of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos Campus, no funds of the Albuquerque Campus or any other UNM branch shall be allocated for the support of the Los Alamos Campus.”

We operate with revenue from five sources: state appropriations (48 percent), contracts and grants (17 percent), tuition and fees (14 percent), auxiliary services (11 percent) and local mil levy tax base (10 percent).

State appropriations are based on enrollment and make up the bulk of our revenue providing

48 percent. Declining enrollment over the last several years has taken a toll on the revenue and although we have seen an increase in enrollment over the last five semesters, we will not realize revenue for another two years due to a lag in the funding formula for the workload. We sustained a legislative budget rescission of 3.5 percent in FY 2009; FY 2010 anticipated a 5 percent rescission. In addition, the New Mexico Public Education Department has mandated all high school students take a dual credit, advanced placement or online class beginning with the graduating class of 2012. This mandate specifies that colleges are not allowed to charge tuition. We will see an increase in high school students over the next several years and the college and instructors will be challenged to provide services and serve more students with no additional money.

Tuition and fees make up 14 percent of our revenue. We have increased tuition rates over the last several years, but tuition credit taken by the state offsets tuition increases implemented by colleges.

Property taxes paid by the residents of Los Alamos County make up 10 percent of our total revenue. A comparison of mil levy rates with the other

17 community colleges in the state reveals that UNM-LA is at the lowest end. The rank order ranges from high to low with 5.0, number one, and 0.64, number 17.

UNM-LA is ranked at number 16, second from the bottom with 0.82. Twenty-nine years ago, Los Alamos voted to support UNM-LA with a minimum one mil levy required by the state. Since then, UNM-LA has not requested an operational increase. UNM-LA did request and the voters approved a capital bond in 1998, but that debt has been retired. A mil is $1 of tax for every $1,000, a two mil levy increase for residential property owners in Los Alamos County would add approximately $52.67 per $100,000 assessed market value of property annually, which would represent $4.39 a month.

UNM-LA is proud to create success for our students and upgrade worker skills that will increase competence, effectiveness and the chance for advancement and retention with local employers throughout our community. The advantages of having a community college in our county to serve our population are precious.

Among them are opportunities and possibilities presenting hope of a brighter future. The college is close to home, which saves travel time.

It is affordable, has quality service and a flexible schedule, so there is no need to take time off from work. We offer small classes with a higher learning success rate, leading edge courses and academic advisement throughout coursework.

While our role in serving the needs of the students and community steadily continues to grow, we are compelled to provide quality educational programs that contribute to the economic well being and quality of life for our population. Remaining competitive as a viable community college is crucial; we must continually expand our existing programs and create new programs to fulfill identified needs with innovative courses and cutting edge technology. Unfortunately, the state funding formula provides no support to develop new programs or to address relevant needs.

Los Alamos County citizens are cognizant of educational needs and we at UNM-LA are committed to continue our quality services. Passage of a two mil levy increase will enable us to maintain and improve our quality of services and instruction in existing programs, expand and develop new programs, upgrade our computing infrastructure, replace equipment for our instructional labs and enhance support services for our students.

We are grateful to the taxpayers for supporting the projects and programs that are critical to this campus fulfilling its mission and goals. We ask for your support with a yes vote.

For more information please visit our website at www.la.unm.edu.

This is the second of a two part series. The first part appeared on Oct. 25. Marie Chiravalle is the UNM-LA Advisory Board  Chair.