ACC Adopts $131M Budget

Trustees narrowly approve plan to raise tuition, fees, salaries

There's something for everyone in the $131 million budget the Austin Community College board of trustees approved Tuesday night. The trustees tweaked the administration's proposed budget to respond to student and faculty concerns before narrowly passing it on a 5-4 vote. Tuition will increase this fall by $5 per credit hour for in-district students. However, as late as last week, ACC administrators were proposing a $10 per hour increase, so the $5 hike seemed almost welcome.

Student activity fees will also go up dramatically, from a flat $3 per student to $1 per credit hour. However, because a board of students, faculty, and staff controls the funds raised by activity fees, many students want this fee hike. ACC Student Government President Levi Barnes told trustees the proposed flat $3 fee was a "slap in the face" after students had asked for a $2 per credit hour hike – a huge increase, but the first since 1992. "We didn't get what we wanted, but it's a good start and a monumental move," said Barnes.

Faculty also got bigger raises than they were expecting. Last year, the board approved a three-year plan that would bring faculty pay up to the statewide average, but full-time faculty insist they're above-average teachers, in a market with an above-average cost of living, who deserve above-average salaries. The board responded by pulling $250,000 out of capital-equipment funds to add to the proposed "average" raises. Another $110,000 came from the same source to give temporary part-time employees a minimum "living wage" of $10.20 per hour.

Trustees voting against the proposal cited concerns that the board was abandoning its own policies, such as the clear faculty compensation targets it set last year. "It's tempting to cast our policies aside to meet the exigencies of the moment, but we need to start thinking long-term," said trustee John Worley.

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