BOISE – North Idaho College President Richard MacLennan made his first budget pitch to state lawmakers on Monday, telling them NIC “stands proudly as the oldest community college in Idaho” and touting its new career-technical education center in Rathdrum.
“This $20 million project was funded entirely by local resources, grants and private giving, which I believe is a strong testament and endorsement of the important work we do for our region,” MacLennan told the Legislature’s joint budget committee.
Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, asked why NIC’s local property tax levy in Kootenai County is nearly $107 per $100,000 assessed value, for a total of $14 million a year, when the College of Southern Idaho and College of Western Idaho have lower levies, CWI at $16 or $6.9 million, and CSI at $96 or $5.7 million. Souza said she wanted to know “why North Idaho College’s numbers so different from those of the other two institutions.”
MacLennan, who’s been on the job for just seven months, deferred the question to Chris Martin, vice president for finance and business affairs, who said, “We are unique in many ways. We are the oldest community college, but we also only have one county in our taxing district, so given the fact that we have been at this for a long time and have only one county, our tax rates do look different from the other community colleges.”
Both CWI and CSI collect property taxes from two counties apiece. While charging property taxes only to Kootenai County residents, NIC serves all five counties in the North Idaho Panhandle and has outreach centers in Bonners Ferry, Kellogg and Sandpoint. The college receives partial tuition payments from the counties of residence of Idaho students who reside outside Kootenai County.
For next year, Gov. Butch Otter is recommending that NIC receive additional funding for a Title IX coordinator, at $90,400; and nearly half a million dollars for technology to help students with disabilities access NIC-produced materials, including curriculum materials.
Overall, Otter is recommending a 6.4 percent boost in state funding for Idaho’s three community colleges.
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