Cuyahoga Community College’s Board of Trustees approved asking for a 2.1 mill renewal levy along with a 0.4 mill increase at its June 29 board meeting, according to a news release. It’s slated to appear on the upcoming November ballot.
Officials said the move will “sustain Tri-C’s vital educational and economic impact in Northeast Ohio.”
Cuyahoga County property owners would pay an additional $1.17 per month on $100,000 of property value, according to the college. The increase would begin in 2024 and run for 10 years if voters approve the measure. It would raise about $74 million each year, Crain’s Cleveland Business reported.
“By providing accessible, flexible education in industries vital to our region and connecting people to life-changing work, we can create inclusive prosperity for all Northeast Ohioans,” Tri-C President Michael Baston said in the release.
The college’s last levy passed in 2019 with about 64% of voters’ support. Local property taxes make up the biggest chunk of Tri-C’s primary revenue, according to the college’s most recent budget book. It’s risen sharply over the past few years. Tri-C is one of only six community colleges and trade schools in the state to use local levies.
Community colleges nationwide, including Tri-C, saw some of the biggest enrollment declines during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This spring, the college’s full-time enrollment fell 3% to about 3,500 students. Part-time enrollment grew by that same percentage to roughly 12,500 students.
In that recent budget book, officials projected the college’s enrollment will likely grow at a “fairly slow pace” over the next few years. They cited factors like low unemployment rates and the region’s declining population.
Baston didn’t seem deterred at his April inauguration, though.
“We will measure our success not by numbers of students or degrees conferred, but by how much someone’s life was improved by their time at Tri-C,” he said in his address.
He outlined a slate of goals for his presidency in a recent edition of the college’s magazine. The list includes boosting the college’s visibility, maintaining a “strong fiscal environment,” and making sure programs, facilities and services are relevant.
Amy Morona covers higher education for Signal Cleveland, in partnership with Open Campus.