Lakeland Community College……they have grand plans with your money

Our concerns about Lakeland Community College started over six months ago, when I started to hear “whispers” from sources that LCC was $10 million over budget on their current building expansion, and are thinking about placing another levy on the November ballot.  I was told that they brought in a couple of local experts to help solve the problem.

As always, we “follow the money”.  We asked the Lake County Auditor’s office for property taxes received by each political sub-division and taxing district for the years 2008 and 2018.  Here are the results of that study:
Property Taxes 2008 vs 2018 by Political Subdivision
Property Taxes 2008 vs 2018 by Taxing District

We then refined our analysis of the property taxes paid to LCC even further.  We wanted to know how much each taxing district paid in 2008 versus 2018.   The misery was shared by all……
LCC property taxes 2008 vs 2018 by Taxing District

After seeing the tremendous increase in property taxes that the LCC trustees had exacted on the Lake County taxpayers, it caused us to write this letter to Mr. Morris W. Beverage, Jr….EDM (whatever that means), President of LCC.      Letter to Morris Beverage

Here are the Condensed Income Statement and Balance Sheet provided to us by LCC.
LCC Condensed Income Statement
LCC Balance Sheet 2017 and 2016

Here are some statistics that I have gleaned from looking at the statements:
1. Student tuition and fees only pays for 14.6% of the operating expenses of LCC. [$10,269,005 / $70,214,186]
2. Their total revenue for 2017 was $64,228,060 and their total expenses were $70,214,186, but the State of Ohio chipped in another $4,370,420, so their loss for the year was ($1,610,706).
3. This entity does not appear that is can ever be self-sustaining, and will continue to be a drain on the taxpayers of Lake County.
4. Although it appears that they can pay off their current liabilities, we are concerned about several of their “non-current”  liabilities (this means that the debt does not have to be paid within one year).

  •     They are reporting $97,645,117 in PENSION liabilities.
  •     They are reporting $80,140,492 in DEBT PAYABLE (presumable for prior building expansion)
  •     They are reporting ($69,812,326) in their unrestricted net position.  This indicates to me that if they were to liquidate, or go out of business, they would not have enough resources to pay off all their debt.
  •     It appears to me that they have either massive unfunded pension liabilities or they put the taxpayers in debtors’ prison to pay for their lavish spending.  Their grand plans are so easy when it is other peoples’ money.
  • LCC had to adopt a new accounting standards entitled GASB 68, which required them to account for future pension liabilities.  I won’t bore you with all the details that cover the pros and cons of GASB 68; in my mind, if it is on your balance sheet, you owe the debt.  If that is not the case, then why should we ever believe any financial statements published by any political sub-division.
  • In the notes to their financial statements, I did read about their School Employees Retirement System (SERS) and the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS).  I thought you may like to read their lucrative retirement system.  Interesting to note that they get a 3% cost of living allowance increase each year! Please raise your hand if you are getting 3% COLA on your Social Security benefits – I didn’t think so.
    LCC Retirement System
  • In answer to my question about the college being $10 million over budget on their latest expansion, I was told that they were not over budget.  Well, we may have just caught them in a “lack of candor” moment.  On page 52, note 14 of their notes to their financial statements, we noticed that on June 1, 2017 the College’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution to issue $10 million in ten-year tax anticipation notes to pay for the Health Technologies Building renovation and expansion project.

    To the LCC Trustees:    Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first set out to deceive……
    Isaiah 5:20
    LCC lack of candor moment

  • I never did get an answer to my question if they were going to place a levy on the November ballot.  We now know the answer………I would call that another “lack of candor” moment……LCC Ballot Issue
  • This brings me to an important “community” issue, because we keep seeing and hearing about how community minded LCC  is in everything they do.  Remember that they are doing it for the children!
    Did you ever hear of the “College Credit Plus Program”?  The State of Ohio legislators thought it was a good idea to provide free college to any Ohio student in grades 7 – 12.  The cost for the credit hours are paid by the public school that the student attends. (ok, who voted for this?)

In the school year 2017 – 2018,  LCC charged the public schools, and therefore, the taxpayers $41.57 per credit hour regardless of where the course was taught.  LCC, ever the community minded entity,  thought it was in their best interest to “stick it to the taxpayers” by charging the following rate per credit hour:

If the course was taken at the high school with a High School teacher:     $41.64 per credit hour
If the course was taken at the high school with a Lakeland professor:       $70.00 per credit hour
If the course was taken at Lakeland with a Lakeland professor:                   $95.00 per credit hour

And adding insult to injury, the cost per credit hour does not include textbooks, which the public school district must purchase as required by law.  When asked why they are increasing the cost per credit hour, the response I received was – “It is a lot less than the former program in place before the “College Credit Plus Program”.

If you are interested, here are two reports showing that Riverside Local Schools paid $271,216.01 in 2016 and $176,055.96 for the “College Credit Plus Program”.
College Credit Program 2016
College Credit Program 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen of Lake County, it is LFC’s opinion that we have an entity that has lost sight of its original mission of being a low cost alternative to a 4 year college program.  Since the State of Ohio has curtailed their spending to local communities, the tax burden is now thrust upon the local taxpayers.  Lake County has an aging population and can no longer afford LCC’s  “champagne taste”.  We need to send them a message to stop pricing seniors and those living on fixed incomes out of their homes that they have worked all their lives to achieve.

THE ONLY MESSAGE THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES WILL UNDERSTAND IS FOR LAKE COUNTY RESIDENTS TO VOTE DOWN THEIR LEVY ON THE NOVEMBER 6TH BALLOT!

 

 

 



Categories: Education, Lake, Tax Levies

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  43. Brian,

    I noticed in one of the tables re property taxes that a thing called the Schedule A, Estimate of Property Taxes, Concord Twp districts 8,9,10 : “Table of Reduction Factors” , the reduction factor was modified from 0.042451 to 0.001966. If this is one of those formulas that is somehow applied to calculate your taxes, then the reduction factor in 2017 is far less. I am trying to understand this number in line with this description I located on reduction factors:

    “The reduction factor in Ohio dates back to a law passed in 1976. That law froze property tax assessed values on existing properties at that year’s level. Every year, the property assessor applies a tax reduction factor to reduce the taxes due on the new market values to produce the same revenue as was received in the previous year. The only way for communities to increase taxes is to build more taxable property, raise emergency levies or taxes to repay debt or have the voters approve a property tax increase.” refer to: https://pocketsense.com/reduction-factor-property-taxes-10017.html

    I looks like the auditor can used this by law to ensure revenues don’t fall, value…. or perhaps that taxpayer are not unfairly taxed if their houses grow in value… My skepticism makes me thing the former, but my layman understanding may cloud my interpretation and that this is really there to protect the taxpayer?

    Is there a common sense scenario for the use of the reduction factor?

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