JANESVILLE

Cuts have resulted in savings and new educational initiatives at Blackhawk Technical College, school President Tracy Pierner said.

Spending in the 2017-18 budget approved last week is down just over 1 percent, from $55.87 million last year to $55.28 million this year.

And although the college will collect more property taxes—up from $14.21 million last year to $14.83 million this year—the tax rate will drop because the overall value of property in the district is up. Last year, technical college-related taxes on a home valued at $100,000 were $121. This year, they will be $120.

“What we did last year laid the groundwork for this year,” Pierner said. “We started last year facing a $400,000 shortfall and ended up with a $700,000 surplus.”

Many of the cuts came at the beginning of last school year when a number of administrators were laid off.

That was from the operations portion of the budget.

“On the capital budget side, because we had reduced spending, we were able to reduce bonding (borrowing) for this year,” Pierner said.

The college also was able to pay an additional $250,000 toward debt. Debt and the interest on debt is usually paid for with the tax levy.

During the budget process, the college worked to get departments to work together on major equipment purchases. For example, the program that teaches power line workers will get a new truck for training, but that truck will be shared with the school’s new truck driving certificate program.

It has required a shift in culture and thinking, Pierner said.

The savings also meant the board was to start working on its strategic plan about six months in advance.

As part of that plan, new programs were added and existing programs were extended to the Monroe Campus.

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