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The Yavapai College District Governing Board has unanimously approved its budget for fiscal year 2016-17.

During a special budget meeting May 10, the board approved a figure of $81 million, which marks a 2.7 percent — or $2.2 million — reduction from last year’s budget without raising the property tax levy. For the 2015-16 fiscal year, the YCD governing board approved a 2 percent property tax levy increase.


According to the board, 72 percent of the budget funds will go toward education expenses, 16 percent will go toward economic development and 12 percent are earmarked for cultural expenses.

Following the approval of the budget, board member Deb McCasland stated that she was pleased to see educational needs addressed along with a budget reduction.

“It appears that the administration is listening to our comments, assessing the opportunities now available and adjusting the Capital Improvement Plan accordingly. Small steps, but a change in the right direction.”

McCasland added that plans for developing the Yavapai College Sedona Center are going forward. According to her, the amount allocated for the capital improvement project — $2 million, with an additional $1.8 million projected for 2017-18 — is less than previous proposals.

“However, I’m hopeful for increased investments in Sedona and the Verde Valley in the future,” McCasland stated.

YCD governing board member Al Filardo praised the approved budget and recent developments, but also noted ongoing community concerns.

“The most prevalent concern I am getting from the community is the idea of retaining taxes collected from the Verde Valley to be spent on the east side of the mountain,” Filardo stated. At the same time, he added that local investment in the budget process has resulted in positive changes.

“Communities in the Verde Valley are now involved in a constructive way. For the first time in a long time, we have a comprehensive strategic plan at Yavapai College, including a plan for the Verde Valley thanks to Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus Dean James Perey and his citizens committee and the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee.

“Look at the Sedona campus,” Filardo added. “What you see is a new parking lot instead of a for-sale sign.”

Other developments Filardo praised include Clarkdale’s film school program and Southwest Wine Center, Camp Verde’s burgeoning culinary program and the return of the College For Kids summer school program.

“Through engaging youth in summer programs, they may see Yavapai College as a future option,” Filardo stated. “This will help increase enrollment in the future because when it is all said and done if we don’t have enough people attending classes, seminars and cultural events at the college, then we don’t appear to need a college.”

“Volunteer and donate your time, talents and money to create the college you need and want and to support scholarships for our communities .... It is a heck of an opportunity, folks. We have a huge county to serve, but it can be done if we turn our passion into meaningful engagement and action.”

Wills’ Donation
During the May 10 Yavapai College District Governing Board meeting, Yavapai College President Penny Wills’ employment contract for the 2016-17 fiscal year was approved.
Along with the contract, Wills’ received a wage increase of $5,000 — an amount that will promptly be donated to the I Am YC fund.
I Am YC is a student-run and college-sanctioned organization dedicated to fostering philanthropy within the college’s community. The endowed student scholarship is focused on reaching and providing support to students the college has determined are in the greatest financial need.
Wills made her commitment clear prior to her wage increase, saying that whatever raise she received would be donated to I Am YC.
“The president brought a proposal to the board that was rather unique,” board member Ray Sigafoos said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in 35 years of higher education employment.”
Board member Al Filardo added words of appreciation. “As a young man needing that kind of funding at Santa Monica City College, it literally boosted my life. I really appreciate you doing that.”
“I too was a first-generation college student,” Wills said. “I feel very fortunate to support students through my job and the Yavapai College Foundation’s Wills Scholarship with my husband, Ron. I’m grateful that I can now help students that find themselves in an emergency situation through I Am YC.”
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