My father once told me to be glad to pay some income tax, because it meant you had some income.

In the news lately, there is much talk about federal tax reform and Nebraska tax revenue shortfalls. Locally, we hear discussions about property tax levy changes. So I thought it might be a good time to discuss how your community college is funded, in part, due to many of these tax sources.

First, let us look at federal funding coming from tax sources or agencies supported primarily from federal taxes. In 2016-17, Central Community College and our students received over $10.94 million in federal student aid. This included over $6 million in grants that helped over 1,900 low-income students pay for tuition, books or housing assistance, plus over $4 million in student loan or work-study disbursements to additional students. The rest of the federal support received by CCC went to help fund equipment in career and technical education programs, health career opportunities and student services.

Taxes collected from the state come back to CCC to assist with operating expenses, such as salaries and benefits for hundreds of employees throughout our 25-county service area. Prior to any proposed reductions due to revenue shortfalls, the college expected to receive approximately $9.5 million from the state. There also are limited state scholarships for low-income, qualifying students as well as support for unemployed adults through the Labor, Vocational Rehabilitation and Health and Human Services departments. Federal funds pass through the state for the adult education program, citizenship/civics instruction, education for criminal offenders and coordination of the vast network of volunteers supporting adult basic education and GED tutoring.

Another state-managed program that supports local businesses is the Worker Training Grant program. These competitive grants help businesses provide training for existing employees to keep their skills up-to-date. In 2016-17, CCC helped area businesses apply for and receive over $184,000 in grants to provide training in topics ranging from instrumentation and robotics to leadership and customer service.

The most significant funding source is local property taxes, providing over 64 percent of the CCC annual budget to help support instructional, student service and administrative personnel, building maintenance and repair, limited construction, hazardous waste disposal and services for adults with disabilities. Our locally elected board of governors reviews and approves the tax request for property owners throughout our service area. For the upcoming year that assessment will be nearly $52.5 million, with the levy rate decreasing each of the last five years. This local investment provides local returns and opportunities for additional skilled workforce and entrepreneurs; products and services purchased from local, state and national vendors; business attraction; recreational and entertainment opportunities; continuing education; and quality of life enhancements.

While no one likes paying any more in taxes than needed, I hope it helps to see how some of those federal, state and local dollars are reinvested locally. Local investment is another reason we are committed to our mission of maximizing student and community success.

Matt Gotschall is president of Central Community College-Columbus. He can be reached at mgotschall@cccneb.edu.

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