The Salary Problem

Perhaps riding the wave of an anti-tax fad now sweeping the nation, The Grand Rapids Press reports that many community colleges are now being really careful about their budgets.

According to an article by Dave Murray:

Will voters accept a tax increase if they know that the money won’t go to salaries and benefits and the rates could go back down in 10 years? That’s the question Grand Rapids Community College leaders are asking as they float the idea of a 10-year, $70 million hike that would pay for building and technology improvements.

GRCC President Steven Ender has started meeting with community groups, starting with businesses and suburban municipal leaders, for feedback. He’s looking a putting the request on the ballot next year. That’s key, because faculty salaries were an issue when GRCC tax hike requests were twice rejected by voters in 2007.

So Ender’s stressing to groups that money from the millage would go toward renovations to the college’s music building, early childhood center and Main Building, with about $26 million used for deferred maintenance across campus.

The average full-time faculty salary at this college is approximately $77,000 a year. but Grad Rapids has less than 300 full-time professors, and some 940 adjunct instructors. Adjunct faculty, who teach the majority of the college courses, earn much less, only about $855 per credit hour taught.

Well, way to keep priorities in order. What will these tax increased go to pay for? Why is it that the community is more interested in paying for renovations to the music building, but salary increases seem wasteful?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer