PIQUA — The Upper Valley Career Center is asking taxpayers to vote on Nov. 5 to approve a new 1.5 mill operating levy.
According to UVCC treasurer Anthony Fraley, the levy will generate just under $3.8 million per year at a monthly cost to tax payers of $4.38 per $100,000 of assessed value on their property.
Superintendent Dr. Nancy Luce noted that UVCC has not had to seek additional operating funds since 2000, and that several factors have contributed to this current levy request, including a 25 percent increase in enrollment on the main campus and a 17 percent increase in satellite programs within the past 10 years.
Luce said UVCC has a “multi-faceted” plan with regard to how the money generated from the levy would be spent.
“One aspect of it is to continue to maintain our programs, our facilities, our equipment and all the software on the main campus, as well as in our satellites,” she said. “In terms of programs, given the rapid changes in technology, there is always a need for new equipment and in the world of career and technical education, that equipment typically comes at a cost.
“In addition, we’re also looking to expand, as the demand is there for even more programs,” Luce continued. “When we open our enrollment in December and students are selecting programs for the following year, within a short period of time — as in hours — many of our programs are filled and have waiting lists.”
Luce said this expansion would be in the form of new programs in order to service more students rather than physical expansion of the campus.
“It is not our intention to put a lot of money into infrastructure on the main campus; we can continue to utilize and restructure or renovate the space that we have to grow, but in order to really do that most efficiently, we want to be able to add programs in the associate schools and satellite areas so that more students can have access,” she said.
UVCC is associated with school districts throughout Miami and Shelby counties, meaning students from these districts attend classes on UVCC’s campus. Along with this, these districts have “satellite” programs, which are funded by UVCC — this includes teachers, equipment, software, textbooks, etc. — and are housed in most of the middle schools and high schools.
“We have a significant percentage of students who are enrolled in programs on our main campus and we’re proud of that, but not all students can access the main campus, so our intention with this expansion is to increase opportunities students have at their home schools to then participate in career and technical programs and training,” Luce said.
Luce said state funding is also playing a part in the need for approval of this new levy. UVCC currently receives 57.9 percent of its funding from the state level, with 35.5 percent coming from the local level, and 6.6 percent coming from other sources.
“This year, the state dollars are frozen at last year’s level and we were capped for the few years before this one, which meant we had a greater percentage of growth than the state was able or willing to fund,” Luce said.
According to a graph provided by Fraley, from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2019, total enrollment at UVCC rose 22.9 percent — from 3,572 to 4,390 students — while the amount of funding per pupil decreased by 5.55 percent — from $2,464.29 to $2,327.54 per pupil.
Along with this, according to Luce, UVCC has also lost about $1.4 million per year in tangible personal property tax, which applies to property used in business in Ohio, due to the fact that this tax was gradually phased out as part of a broader series of tax reforms enacted in 2005.
In addition, Luce added, UVCC recently retired a bond, reducing costs to homeowners by .46 mill or $1.34 per month.
Luce said that despite an effort to identify ways to become more efficient, along with staff cuts and the elimination of low-enrollment programs, funding is a significant issue looking forward.
“In a variety of ways, our funding has been impacted,” she said. “We didn’t come up with this request lightly and we feel like we’ve done all we could to stretch our dollars, but the need is out there for a trained workforce and we want to make sure we’re doing all we can to meet the needs of our students, our employers and our communities.”