March 8, 2019
Story by Brandon Steinert
Barton Community College has been providing affordable and accessible higher education to Barton County for almost 50 years, and the question of what exactly taxpayers are getting for their money comes up every year at tax time.
The college’s Institutional Effectiveness Department has attempted to make the return on investment easy to understand and as simple as one number. The answer they have provided is for every $1 in taxes, Barton County residents enjoy a return of $2.76 injected into the local economy.
Here is a breakdown of the math:
Barton Community College received $8,083,163 in property taxes from Barton County.
- The college spent $7,053,455 in Barton County.
- Employees living in Barton County were paid $12,652,375 in wages.
- Students living in Barton County spent $2,630,880.
- Total Direct Economic impact was $22,336,880. (Items 1-3 added together.)
The $8,083,163 in taxes the college collected in 2017 resulted in the circulation of $22,336,880. The latter divided by the former generates the rate of return of 276 percent. For every dollar in taxes, Barton County’s economy sees $2.76.
One might wonder how the college is able to spend more than what it received in local property taxes. The answer is that property taxes are less than a third of the college’s total revenue, at about 27.2 percent. About 41 percent comes from student tuition and fees. Another 26.4 percent comes from state aid, with grants and other sources making up the last 5 percent. The 27.2 percent of the revenue from taxpayers makes possible the other 72.8 percent of revenue, much of which is spent locally and contributes to the high return on investment.
The college’s personnel chose to be extremely conservative with their estimates, only calculating the direct economic impact of the college’s operations. Typically, economic impact studies concerned with geographic areas the size of counties use multipliers ranging from 1.9 to 3.0. This is to estimate the indirect impact of the college, like the socioeconomic benefits of having a higher education institution in the county, other spending that occurs as a result of the college’s presence, a more skilled labor pool to support industry and more.
A conservative multiplier of 1.9 would yield a benefit to Barton County of $42,440,072, or $5.25 for every tax dollar collected by the college.
The study was conducted by Barton’s Institutional Research staff, and was corroborated and certified by the Docking Institute through Fort Hays State University, which said the report is acceptable. The public can view the Docking Institute’s response and verification at bartonccc.edu/economic-impact.