Employees in Maricopa County’s community colleges may get a raise for the first time in three years.

And students may see no increase in tuition for the fall.

The Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board is expected to approve its budget during a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on May 22 at the district’s Tempe offices, 2411 W. 14th St.

The budget proposal includes a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for employees, as well as the funding for one “step” for certified staff.

Certified staff at the district are paid based on their experience and education; each level — or step — increasing an employee’s pay. It has been frozen in recent years.

Last spring, the community college district governing board increased tuition from $71 per credit hour to $76 per credit hour, citing increasing enrollment and decreasing funds from the state.

With the freeze in tuition, full-time resident students will again pay about $2,280 for a year of school.

The previous increase, from $65 per credit hour, came for the 2007-2008 school year.

If approved, it would mean most college students in the East Valley won’t see a tuition increase next fall. The Arizona Board of Regents recently announced tuition will not increase for undergraduate, resident students.

The Maricopa County Community College District operating budget is expected to drop by about half a million dollars for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, under the proposal before the board on Tuesday.

It would bring the district’s operating budget — 70 percent of which goes to salaries and benefits — to $683.5 million, down slightly from $684 million this current fiscal year.

The district is also not asking for any increase to the tax levy for existing residents. There is about $700,000 in additional funds in the budget from a small increase in the tax levy for new construction.

The district’s proposal for its overall budget — which includes funds from selling previously voter-approved bonds for construction and facilities — is $1.56 billion. That is a 11.36 percent increase from the current year, much of which comes from plans to sell bonds, said district spokesman Tom Gariepy.

The Maricopa County Community College District is one of the largest in the country. It is made of 10 campuses, including three in the East Valley: Mesa Community College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Tempe’s Rio Salado College.

According to the district website, more than 260,000 students take classes at the district each year. There are 8,281 employees, including 1,457 full-time faculty and 4,358 adjunct faculty.

• Contact Writer: (480) 898-6549 or mreese@evtrib.com

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