BENTONVILLE -- Northwest Arkansas Community College's millage rate will remain as is after residents on Tuesday rejected a tax hike.
The college had proposed a 0.4-mill increase that would have raised its millage rate from 2.6 to 3. The college's millage applies only to residents of its taxing district, which includes the Bentonville and Rogers school districts.
Complete but unofficial results show the issue failed:
College officials estimated the millage increase would have brought the college an additional $1.8 million per year in revenue.
The millage was originally 3 mills when voters approved the ballot issue that established the college Aug. 15, 1989, said Grant Hodges, the college's chief of staff and executive director of communications.
However, the millage was reduced over time because of Amendment 59 of the Arkansas Constitution, which limits growth in property taxes by automatically reducing an institution's mills when assessed property values rise.
Hodges said he found the millage was lowered from 3 to 2.7 in 1997. It was lowered again to 2.6 by 2005, he said.
The additional 0.4 mills would have cost homeowners an extra $8 for every $100,000 of home value each year, he said.
Dennis Rittle, college president, said last year the millage rollback has posed some financial challenges, making it difficult for the college to offer competitive salaries.
Tuesday's election result comes one day after the college's Board of Trustees unanimously approved the school's operating budget of about $45.3 million for fiscal year 2024, which begins July 1 -- a 6% increase from the current fiscal year.
Hodges said 60% of the budget increase will go to employees in the form of raises, benefits and bonuses.
Hodges said the budget plan for fiscal 2024 didn't hinge on the results of Tuesday's election. The tax increase, if it had been approved, wouldn't have taken effect in time to impact the 2024 budget. College officials proposed the budget based on increased revenue from enrollment growth and the millage.
Northwest Arkansas Community College is the largest two-year college in the state, with 7,593 students taking courses for academic credit last fall semester. Enrollment increased by 802 students, or 10.7%, in the fall 2022 semester over the previous fall semester, and by 1,016 students, or 15.9%, this spring semester over last, Hodges said.