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COC OKs budget ahead of the state

Tentative agreement was made in anticipation of California passing its plan

Posted: June 24, 2009 9:34 p.m.
Updated: June 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

While educators continue waiting for the state to come up with a budget, College of the Canyons’ governing board on Wednesday approved a tentative $175.4 million budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

The tentative budget includes projected general fund revenues of $79,811,051 and expenses totalling $81,121,051 — with a $4.9 million ending balance reserve from the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The budget was the centerpiece of the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of COC’s board of trustees, with a presentation by Sharlene Coleal, vice president of fiscal services.

Based on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger’s May revision for the state’s 2009-10 budget, COC anticipates a $7.7 million reduction in funding from state sources, college spokeswoman Sue Bozman said.

On top of that, the college plans for an estimated $3.3 million in expense increases involving utilities, health care costs and insurance, she said.

The combined reductions and expense increases are expected to total $11 million.

In response to the revenue deficits and expense increases, COC responded with a list of $11 million in reductions and savings.

Included in that list of reductions is $1.5 million in salary savings due to retirement or resignation; $360,000 in savings due to vacant positions; and $130,000 in one-time expenses not rebudgeted.

“People here figure out how to get it done,” COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook said. “If we were sitting in another community having this conversation we wouldn’t be looking at this.”

The reductions come as College of the Canyons, which operates under the auspices of the Santa Clarita Community College District, experienced a funding reduction from the state of $4.6 million from 2008-09.

Given the ongoing “budget fiasco” at the state level, board member Ernie Tichenor asked if there are long-term contingency plans in place.

“We have room where we can go and even more strategically make cuts and not affect core programs,” Coleal said. “I really think we can make it through a couple years.”

When it comes to the budget approved Wednesday, she said: “Decisions were made that weren’t made at other colleges.”

Unlike other community colleges, COC has not laid off any full-time employees, cut pay or instituted furloughs, Coleal noted.

Additionally, she said the college is pursuing federal stimulus money and grants.

“It’s exciting stuff that’s going on at the federal level,” she said. “We’re not just looking to cut.”

In Sacramento on Wednesday, a Democratic plan to begin closing California’s $24 billion budget deficit failed, as legislative leaders said they will have lawmakers work through the weekend in an attempt to avoid a cash crisis by next week, the start of the new fiscal year.

The Democratic plan contains about $11 billion in cuts and $2 billion in taxes on oil drilling and tobacco.

 It also includes $5 billion in fees and accelerated revenue through earlier collection of personal and corporate income taxes, and $5 billion in other solutions.

Schwarzenegger’s plan would cut about $16 billion, borrow $2 billion from local governments, take $6 billion from other government accounts, accelerate personal and corporate income tax collections and cut state employee pay by another 5 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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