At today’s board meeting, Texarkana College trustees approved an official partnership with Texas Veterans Commission Claims Representation and Counseling division to provide on-campus accommodations to TVC to provide aid in accessing benefits to any eligible veteran who served in the United States armed forces. Dependents or survivors of eligible veterans may also receive assistance in obtaining access to the federal and state benefits to which they are entitled. TC President Dr. Jason Smith said the partnership to provide a dedicated campus space for this service is a great benefit for area veterans.
“The Texas Veterans Commission contacted Texarkana College to see if we would be willing to partner with them to open an office on our campus to assist veterans with claims representation and counseling,” Smith said. “We identified an available office space in the Truman Arnold Student Center where we could accommodate a Veterans Claims Counselor.”
Smith said TC will provide private, handicapped-accessible office space for one full-time TVC claims counselor, along with sufficient parking for visiting veterans and guests.
“Our organizations have been working together for several months to identify the respective responsibilities of each organization,” said Smith. “Together, we have drafted a Memorandum of Understanding detailing shared goals to promote quality, ease of access, and coordination of care to local veterans by providing on-site claims representation and counseling services. The site will accommodate veterans of Texarkana and surrounding cities.”
Smith said the anticipated date for opening the claims center is Fall 2019.
In other business, trustees took action to approve the 2019-2020 budget, which controls expenditures for the fiscal year. Trustees reviewed preliminary drafts of the budget over the last two months, which were based on enrollment projections and estimated tax revenue. Kim Jones, TC’s Chief Financial Officer, said the budget is balanced based on current projections and estimates.
“We are presenting a breakeven, bare-bones budget today for your approval,” Jones said. “We have gone through each previous draft budget and made adjustments and revisions to arrive at the balanced budget presented today. This budget is based on enrollment projections consistent with the prior year and adjustments may be needed once final enrollment numbers are complete.”
Jones said the budget book includes tuition rates and the TC employee compensation plan for 2019-2020.
“The TC Employee Handbook and Compensation Plan includes information compiled from local procedures and state and federal regulations and is aligned with both board policy and the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Jones. “Specific changes in the 2019-20 plan from the previous year include the adjustment in calendar dates and employee position information.”
Jones said no other significant changes were made to the budget from last year.
Trustees also voted to adopt a tax rate of $0.123081 for the 2019-20 budget year. This is an increase of $0.004966 over the current year’s rate of $0.118115 per $100 of assessed property value.
Smith said that even though the tax rate is a slight increase, TC will still have one of the lowest tax rates of all fifty community colleges in the state.
“No one likes taxes, including me; however, increased reliance on support from local taxpayers is the state’s expectation for publicly-funded community colleges,” said Smith. “Over the past three decades, Texas community college funding from the state has declined, increasing the burden on local taxpayers. TC has raised student tuition rates to also help offset the decrease from the state, but we remain committed to student success and staying affordable to our students by keeping our tuition rates right at the state average.”
The tax rate will generate approximately $300,000 in tax revenue for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.