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05-06-2013


An open letter from Jim Taylor to the good people of Williamsburg and Whitley County

 


UNIVERSITY of the CUMBERLANDS, the City of Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Independent School System, the Whitley County Schools and Whitley County are Partners in Progress

1. The map of Williamsburg clearly demonstrates that while approximately 50% of the population of Williamsburg is located on campus, the campus has only around 8% of the Williamsburg property including the recent addition which will eventually be used for athletic fields. While I’m passionately in favor of the City of Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Independent Schools, Whitley County, the Whitley County Schools, and the City and County governments, we, at times, feel a little like Israel being surrounded by the Arabs with so many students, faculty and staff located on such a small amount of Williamsburg land.

2. University of the Cumberlands employees paid $126,833 in occupational taxes in 2012. The University has 119 contract employees hired by Aramark, Chartwells, Barnes & Noble and Storm Security who also pay occupational tax. These same people pay city and county taxes if they live in the city and county taxes if they live in the county.

3. With 310 full-time faculty and staff, 72 part-time faculty and staff and 119 contract employees, the property values in Williamsburg are held high. I have been asked, “With more and more on-line courses, do you plan to move the campus to Florence in northern Kentucky since you have a building there?” And my reply has been a resounding, “No, that is not our plan.” While such a move is not likely, it must remain an option as technology changes. Such an action would leave other Williamsburg property essentially worthless with 300 or so homes for sale all at one time.

4. Recently the University purchased property coming into Williamsburg along South Tenth Street and South Second Street:

a. some of this property was blighted and abandoned with back taxes due. The University paid off those taxes and is cleaning up the blighted property at no cost to the city and is vastly improving the first impression of visitors to the area.

b. other property owners were able to purchase homes elsewhere in the city and will be paying property and school taxes on their new homes. Most of these new homeowners are delighted, I’m told, since they owned property located adjacent to blighted or abandoned property, and they thought there wouldn’t be a fair price offered for their property because of its location.

5. UC’s Mountain Outreach program has built two homes for every one torn down.

6. We were delighted to be able to purchase the 18 unit Byrd Apartments which are adjacent to campus and which now house graduate students, faculty and staff.

7. During the last calendar year, Cumberlands paid $109,049 to the city for water, $106,404 to the city for sewer services, $79,329 to the city for garbage services, and $49, 289 to the city and tourism commission for hotel/restaurant tax.

8. In 2012, Cumberlands paid $2,136,705 in student employment payroll and a number of the over 800 students who receive workstudy funds take a portion of the earnings to spend locally for personal needs while more larger sums are spent by faculty and staff and contractors as well as by students and visiting relatives and athletic teams.

9. In 2012 Cumberlands paid for $31,368 in student wages for student employees working at the Williamsburg Independent School as teacher’s aides and coach’s aides.

10. Another way Cumberlands contributes to the community is through its relationship with the Williamsburg Police Department. Cumberlands provides its facility to the Williamsburg Police Department for training, and all uniformed officers are invited to eat free of charge in the T.J. Roberts Dining Hall. Recently, UC was pleased to be able to provide a $10,000 donation to the Williamsburg Police Department for Kevlar vests. Cumberlands also makes an annual $1,000 donation to the Shop with a Cop program.

11. Cumberlands has made a commitment of $30,000 over two years to help pay for a city fire truck.

12. Cumberlands maintains all the roads, sidewalks and curbs on campus at no cost to the city or the county.

13. The University also supports local schools by purchasing ads, sponsoring message boards and supporting athletic programs.

14. Within the last few weeks Cumberlands has been informed that due to the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s commitment to the Great Commission and the decrease in funds designated to the Cooperative Program by the Kentucky Baptist Churches, the funds given the University will be cut by $270,000 over the next 30 months. While understandable, this reductions creates an even greater challenge to the University.

15. The Williamsburg Independent School District is facing an estimated $105,125 assessment for their participation in a state-wide school insurance pool, called KSBIT. Cumberlands is also facing an estimated $215,228 assessment from KSBIT. Coupled with the KBC decrease, Cumberlands will be short almost $500,000.

16. The Budget Control Act of 2011 will impose across-the-board cuts of 7.8 percent or more to education and other domestic programs due to sequestration, and although it’s not clear what exact impact this will have on the WISD for next year, it most certainly will impact public school budgetary decisions made locally as well as colleges and universities.

Do we have faults and shortcomings? Of course we do, but we strive every day to be the best neighbors possible. Together University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Independent School System, Whitley County Schools and Whitley County are partners in progress!