FHSU President Mirta Martin will be giving a presentation and answering questions regarding the proposed DCCC merger on Tuesday, Aug. 12.

The new president of Fort Hays State University, Mirta Martin, will be answering questions at a town hall-style public event, Tuesday, regarding the proposed merging of Dodge City Community College into the state university system.

Martin will give a presentation at the Dodge House Hotel at 2408 W. Wyatt Earp Boulevard at 12:30 p.m. Prior to that, the Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a luncheon there at 11:30 a.m. The cost of the meal is $10, though it is not required to take part in the lunch to attend the information and question session.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend.

The goal of the meeting is to "clarify what has been some misinformation that has been out in the community" regarding the merger, FHSU spokesman Kent Steward said.

Last time Martin was in Dodge City during Dodge City Days, she told a meeting of local FHSU alumni and local government officials she was interested in listening to and hearing the concerns of Ford County residents regarding the merger.

One of the most recent concerns to emerge in the process is an expected $960,000 shortfall, primarily for athletics scholarships, if the merger were to follow strictly to the "white paper" framework presented to the Kansas Board of Regents. If implemented, the DCCC taxing entity would be in control of athletics but have no access to student fees or tuition to help fund it. By state law, property tax revenues cannot be used to give scholarships to out-of-county students.

A recent steering committee meeting created individual subcommittees for various aspects of the deal, but discussion of the $1 million deficit was not discussed in close terms, Kansas Board of Regents workforce development vice president Blake Flanders said.

DCCC Director of Finance Vada Hermon, who first alerted the other decision-makers of the deficit, is a member of the finance subcommittee that will meet on Aug. 22 in Hays which will likely address the issue more specifically.

Flanders said it was too early to tell how the three-agency group would address any specific shortfalls. "I want that subcommittee to do work first and come out with findings as far as budget," he said.

"We're currently working under the assumption of a $5 million 'ask' as far as operations. I would expect that to really help support this affiliation," he added. "If any statutory changes are needed to make this smoother or more efficient ... those are also going to be lifted up as part of our work."

Much is unknown at this point until the group begins working on specific legislative requirements for the merger as it would be a precedent-setting case. The scope of the legislation, whether it would be written broadly for other mergers of this type, or localized, in which it is specifically written to accommodate this particular merger, has not been publicly discussed.

To make reservations to attend the buffer luncheon, contact the Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce at 620-227-6119.