At its June 27 meeting in Breckenridge, the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees voted to approve a 2018-19 general fund budget of $68.3 million. This balanced budget reflects an operating budget of $64 million, which is an increase over 2017-18 of 1 percent, approximately one-third of inflation. Trustees also approved an extension of President Carrie Besnette Hauser’s contract.

Projected revenues are up about 3 percent, reflecting increases in state revenues and motor vehicle ownership taxes, as well as a modest decline in oil and gas revenue. The budget includes cost-of-living salary increases of 3 percent for all employees and a 1.5 percent pool for merit increases, as well as significant cost savings through efficiencies in the structure of retirement plans and salary savings via the college’s voluntary early retirement plan.

The budget is based on an expectation of slightly lower enrollment for the 2018-19 year, as historically college enrollments fall when unemployment rates are low. CMC’s enrollments are strong compared to peers, but trustees heard in the meeting that college leadership assumes the state’s strong economy will continue to affect enrollments in the near term.

The budget reflects no new impact in 2018-19 from the Gallagher Amendment, a state constitutional amendment that regulates property tax assessment rates. The residential property tax assessment rate declined by 9.5 percent in 2017, which resulted in lower property taxes, but the assessment rate is currently only subject to adjustment every other year. The state’s Legislative Council has projected that the rate will decline again substantially in 2019. During the board’s work session, trustees continued to discuss how to anticipate and prepare for potential future impacts caused by the Gallagher Amendment.

The budget also reflects the appropriation of $15.5 million in capital funding from reserve accounts, $15.3 million of major capital spending from bond proceeds and $900,000 in current year spending. The funds will support construction projects at Spring Valley, the purchase of 30 Breckenridge housing units, and programmatic and initial design work on the Aspen campus.

Hauser’s contract renewed

At the conclusion of a months-long process, and citing great confidence in the college’s direction and recent accomplishments as well as a sincere desire to ensure long-term stability, the CMC Board of Trustees approved a new four-year contract for Dr. Hauser to begin July 1 and run through June 30, 2022.

Board President Patty Theobald said, “With retention and graduation rates that exceed national benchmarks, receiving an upgrade in the college’s financial rating due to sound fiscal management, investing more resources in faculty and instruction than administrative overhead, rapidly expanding the number of high school students enrolled in concurrent enrollment programs, and guaranteeing a scholarship to every graduating senior in CMC’s large geographic service area, the college has become a higher-performing institution during Dr. Hauser’s tenure.” She also commended the work of several trustees, including Peg Portscheller of Parachute, for their efforts to update President Hauser’s contract.

Trustee Portscheller added, “This contract accomplishes a number of things – for President Hauser, the board and the institution. It provides stability that the board and staff have sought. Dr. Hauser also knows she has our commitment to sustain and expand upon the college’s very positive trajectory for another four years. We are at a very important juncture in the evolution of CMC. We are excited that Dr. Hauser gets to close out the first 50 years, and to be here for at least the first four of the next 50 years.”

In response to the news of her contract extension, President Hauser said, “I am grateful for and humbled by the board’s actions today. I am deeply committed to our Western Slope communities, and the trustees’ actions demonstrate that they share my enthusiasm for the college’s vision, mission, direction and progress. But the ever-growing list of significant accomplishments at CMC reflects the hard work of many.

“The faculty, staff and students at CMC are extraordinary and are the real reason for our success,” Hauser said. “There is no institution with a better team or with greater potential to do good for its communities, strategic partners and state than CMC.”

Other actions and discussion

At the meeting trustees also approved:

  • A general policy for institutional debt, to provide a structure within which the college can manage and monitor its institutional debt, including bonds and certificates of participation. The policy explains how – unlike most other colleges and universities in the state – as a local district college, CMC does not participate in capital development and funding at the state level.
  • Modifying the trustee director districts to conform to the boundaries of school districts within the CMC district. For instance, part of the Eagle County School District (Eagle-Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff) has been included in CMC Trustee District 7 (Lake County), and part of the Roaring Fork RE-1 school district (Basalt) has been included in CMC Trustee District 1 (Pitkin County). With this vote, the school district and CMC director district boundaries are aligned. Voters throughout the college’s six-county district vote for all seven trustee seats.
  • Amending the general contractor agreement with Haselden Construction to set a Guaranteed Maximum Price of $19.2 million for construction of the Ascent Center and the Fitness and Recreation Center at Spring Valley.
  • The president’s annual goals and work plan.

Also at the meeting, for personal reasons Trustee Doris Dewton of Eagle County offered her verbal resignation from the board of trustees, effective after the August board retreat. “On behalf of the college and our entire team,” said President Hauser, “I extend heartfelt thanks to Doris, who in past years has served as both the CMC Board of Trustees president and CMC Foundation Board chair, as well as a member of the Board of Overseers, for her many years of extraordinary service to the college.” Once her letter of resignation is received and approved by the board, trustees have 60 days to appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of her term.