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COM trustees seek deeper budget cuts - The Galveston County Daily News : Local News

November 27, 2014

COM trustees seek deeper budget cuts

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Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014 9:40 pm

TEXAS CITY — College of the Mainland’s president said that reducing the budget more than it already has been would result in cutting employees. That may be exactly what some trustees are seeking. 

President Beth Lewis presented college trustees with a Plan A that was a proposed budget of about $32.3 million for fiscal year 2015. That’s $500,000 less than the budget the college is operating under now and one that cuts even deeper than the budget that was brought to the trustees during a workshop two weeks ago. 

Although the budget is smaller, Lewis said it included pay increases for employees, as well funds for two new high school advisers and four new employees in maintenance and facilities. 

She said the college was taking steps to reduce its overall non-faculty employee numbers through initiatives such as declining to replace some employees who retire and by implementing a hiring “chill” in which only positions that are “deemed mission critical” will be filled in the next two years. 

The proposed budget was cutting close to the bone, Lewis said. 

“More cuts would essentially mean people’s jobs,” she said. 

But Lewis did give trustees two other options that would further reduce the budget. 

Under Plan B, the six new employees, two advisers and four maintenance staff, would be cut, reducing the overall proposed budget by nearly $330,000. Plan B would also cut a proposed 2.5 percent salary scale increase for employees, which would cost just more than $400,000, according to a recent salary study, while keeping in place money to cover a proposed 4 percent across-the-board raise. 

Plan C would not only cut the six new positions from the budget but would also terminate seven current employees, as well as cut the proposed salary increase. Under the Plan C, four professional staff members would be let go by August 2015 and three classified staff members would be let go before September.

“We are looking at every position,” Lewis said.

But many of the trustees did not seem satisfied with the budget options presented. 

Trustee Rachel Delgado said she had concerns about how the college’s spending on salaries, benefits and other expenses compared to other nearby colleges. 

But she said she felt the administration was pushing for adoption of Plan A by making the other options look bad. Delgado suggested there were other ways to cut the budget. 

Trustee Wayne Miles and Board Chair Roney McCrary both asked Lewis to keep looking for cuts and ways to reduce the number of non-faculty employees. 

“We are not, in this budget, addressing that overstaffing issue,” Miles said. 

A recent salary study presented to the trustees found College of the Mainland had more non-faculty employees than other colleges in the area.

According to the study, full-time faculty members only made up about 34 percent of the full-time employees at the College of the Mainland. On average, full-time faculty comprise about 40 percent of the workforce at other community colleges in the area, according to the study. 

But Lewis said the number of non-faculty employees has been dropping over time. In 2009-10, there were 255 full-time non-faculty employees. That number fell to 217 by 2013 and then rose slightly to 220 by 2013-14, according to data provided by the college. 

But while most of the trustees seemed interested in cutting the budget, not all suggested the college should begin terminating employees. 

“I want to cut the budget as much as anybody else,” Trustee Nick Stepchinski said. “I think it can be done if we strictly adhere to no hiring.” 

Stephchinksi said it could be difficult to compare College of the Mainland’s staffing numbers to other colleges in the area because there was no way of knowing whether they were under- or overstaffed, or whether they provided the same services College of the Mainland provided. 

Rather than micromanaging the administration, Stepchinski said the trustees should see what cuts the administration would come back with. 

McCrary asked Lewis to have her staff look through the budget again and come back in a month for another workshop with the board. 

“I think it’s clear that we want to reduce the budget,” he said. 

“The thing that I have said over and over again is I don’t know if we reduce by three people, five people but just look at it. See if there is something that can be done.” 

 


 

Budget plans 

 

Plan A: Adopt the proposed $32.2 million proposed budget 

• includes two new high school advisers

•includes four new maintenance and facilities employees 

•includes 4 percent across the board raise

•includes 2.5 percent salary scale increase 

•reduces staff through attrition

•implements a hiring “chill” so that only “mission critical” positions are filled during 2015 and 2016

 

Plan B: No new positions or salary scale increase

•removes two high school adviser positions from budget reducing the budget by about $112,000

•removes four new maintenance and facilities employees from the budget reducing the budget by nearly $217,000

•includes 4 percent across the board raise

•removes 2.5 percent salary scale increase 

•implements a hiring “chill” so that only “mission critical” positions are filled during 2015 and 2016

 

Plan C: No new positions, no salary scale increase and seven jobs eliminated 

•removes two high school adviser positions from budget reducing the budget by about $112,000

•removes four new maintenance and facilities employees from the budget reducing the budget by nearly $217,000

•includes 4 percent across the board raise

•removes 2.5 percent salary scale increase 

•four professional staff will be eliminated after August 2015 reducing the 2016 budget by almost $279,000.

•three classified staff will be terminated on August 31 reducing the budget by about $120,000

•implements a hiring “chill” so that only “mission critical” positions are filled during 2015 and 2016

 

Source: College of the Mainland