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College projects more state funding cuts

Most of the revenue reduction comes from projected funding cuts by the state higher education department and a projected cut in state funding from the legislature.

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • San Juan College has lost about $1.83 million in state funding for the 2016 calendar year.
  • The college board members approved a $1.14 million budget reduction this month that included 12 employee layoffs.
  • One idea under consideration to address the loss of funding is a “voluntary retirement incentive” program.

 

The clock tower at San Juan College is pictured in this Daily Times file photo.

 

FARMINGTON – San Juan College is projecting a $1.23 million reduction in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year mostly due to a loss in state funding.

Ed DesPlas, the college’s vice president for administrative services, updated the members of the San Juan College Board during a Dec. 6 work session about the proposed 2017-2018 budget.

The presentation on the early revenue projections followed a discussion on the approximate $1.14 million reduction for the current 2016-2017 budget that was approved later that night.

A total of 12 college employees were laid off as part of the budget cut. Four faculty, three professional, three support and two administrator positions were eliminated.

Higher education funding statewide was cut by 5 percent as required after the approval of state Senate Bill 9.

Following the budget cut, faculty members gave votes of no confidence to college President Toni Pendergrass and the board members on Dec. 8.

Lance Myler, the faculty association president, told The Daily Times earlier this month the process for the no-confidence vote started in October before the layoffs. The vote was in part due to frustration with communication related to the college’s finances, however.

DesPlas said in a Dec. 6 interview that he is projecting a reduction in state funding of about $1.15 million that will be reflected in the proposed 2017-2018 budget,

This follows a loss of about $1.83 million, or 7 percent, of San Juan College’s state funding in the 2016 calendar year.

About $584,000 of next year's expected shortfall is from a projected 2.5 percent reduction of state funding as legislators work to balance the state’s 2018 fiscal year budget, DesPlas said. And about a $210,000 reduction in state funding is a carryover from the current fiscal year.

DesPlas is also projecting a $354,000 reduction due to changes in the college's funding formula as proposed by the New Mexico Higher Education Department.

And DesPlas said he is skeptical about the property tax revenue the college receives and is projecting a decline of about $315,000.

“We’ve seen some steady increases in property values in the county,” DesPlas said. “At the same time, our economy has been going in a southerly direction.”

However, after talking with other San Juan College vice presidents, DesPlas is projecting an increase of about $237,000 in tuition and fees revenue. That is based upon a projected 2 percent enrollment increase, which means an increase in credit hours.

To address the projected $1.23 million reduction in state funding for the proposed 2017-2018 budget, administrators are reviewing ideas from a late October meeting with the college community. 

The campus-wide meeting was held to solicit input from college employees on how to handle budget cuts. About 10 to 12 pages of ideas are being reviewed by administrators to see how viable they are, DesPlas said. 

One idea DesPlas mentioned was a “voluntary retirement incentive” program to give payouts to retirement-eligible employees who agree to retire. DesPlas is currently developing the plan and it must meet certain conditions before it will be considered.

“It’s got to be financially viable,” DesPlas said. “It has to result in sustainable budget savings and spending reductions.”

The budget is due to the New Mexico Higher Education Department by May 1.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.