TEXAS CITY – The fate of nine jobs may be the last issue to hammer out before College of Mainland trustees approve the new budget.
At 9 a.m. today, trustees will convene a regular meeting during which they could approve the college’s fiscal year 2015 budget.
The college administration presented trustees with a proposed $32.281 million spending plan. That budget is about $500,000 smaller than the current budget, but trustees have asked the administration for more cuts.
To that end, the administration has presented the trustees with nine employees in classified and professional positions who could be let go to further trim the budget.
Eliminating those positions would save about $192,500 in the 2015 budget and about $365,000 in the 2016 budget, college President Beth Lewis said.
“The nine positions that we’ve suggested don’t have a lot direct student interaction,” she said.
The positions are all have “back of the house” duties and would not affect student services if trustees chose to cut them, Lewis said.
But cuts beyond that would begin to affect student services, she said.
Board Chairman Roney McCrary said he thought the board would make a decision on the nine jobs today and approve a budget at the meeting.
McCrary said there was not a certain number the administration had to meet when it came to cutting the budget but instead the idea was to ask the administration to see what reductions could be made.
“I’m hoping that we do see some additional reduction in the budget,” he said. “Whether that comes from personnel or what, I don’t know.”
Trustee Rachel Delgado said trustees were being especially thorough as they attempted to establish a baseline budget. Looking at the cost of salaries and benefits, she said College of the Mainland was spending more than other colleges in the area.
“The only way to bring expenses at College of the Mainland in line with our peers is to address salaries and benefits,” she said.
Trustee Rosalie Kettler said it was the board’s responsibility to use the college’s revenue properly.
“This could result in additional budget cuts,” she said.
Trustee Ralph Holm said he believed the budget was heading in the right direction as they worked to make the budget the right size for the community college and taxpayers.
“Cutting for just cuttings sake is an error but I think if they are justifiable then that is what you have to do,” he said.
Trustee Nick Stepchinski said the administration has cut and tightened the budget and is on the right track. If the board approves laying off nine more people, they should be rehired when positions come open at the college or retrained and transferred to other positions, he said.
“There is always more you can cut out of everything when you are on the outside looking in,” he said. “But I think that (the administration) has done a pretty good job.”
Trustees Bennie Matthews and Wayne Miles could not be reached for comment.
Along with the possible nine jobs cuts, trustees and the college’s budget writers will also need to figure out what to do with a little over $1 million more in revenue the college is bringing in more than it plans to spend. The college can put that extra revenue in a designated fund for a specific purpose such as facilities repairs.
Lewis said it was a good problem to have and said she hoped the money could be put in a fund to be used for repairs needed across the more than 45-year-old campus.
McCrary said there were multiple ways the extra revenue could be put to use.
“It might be that we can, based on that additional revenue, be able to handle some of the facilities that we’ve been dealing with,” McCrary said. “And then it could also affect a tax decrease.”