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$1.2 million deficit no cause for concern?

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Students urged not to worry over rumors regarding potential deficit, a matter UCC does not take lightly.

For a community college, budgeting can be a slippery slope that involves a good amount of brainstorming, planning, and waiting for state approval. When rumors of a deficit circulate during this budget process, students worry about the impact, especially when those rumors refer to a UCC budget deficit of $1.2 million.

Mike N., a UCC student, voiced one of the greatest concerns: “I’m afraid we’re going to have to pay more for tuition.” UCC’s Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Redell, however, wants to reassure students.

“We shouldn’t panic. This is very normal for us,” Redell said. “Right now, we’re just doing the projections.” The internal budget committee has just begun to request the budgets of the college’s various departments.

Because this information is still being gathered, the school cannot yet offer the state a concrete number on funding needs. They can, however, estimate their needs based on previous years’ budgets.

“We have looked at the first numbers given to us by the state. There is a difference,” Redell said. Although she did not offer an exact figure, the roughly $1 million difference between needs and projected funding is something that the school’s financial office does not take lightly.

The school receives funding from three sources: the state, property taxes and tuition. “Tuition is slated to already go up $2 a credit,” Redell said referring to a coming rise in tuition to help cover the costs of the Health, Nursing, and Science Center, “The college is hesitant to raise the tuition [more].”

And although the school received $600,000 in extra funding last year, there is a lot of red tape that must be dealt with in order to shift around funds. “When you receive this much more money than what you projected, you must present a request to the board to adjust the budget, and to move the money,” Redell said.

Thus far, Redell does not foresee any programs, activities or events being cut in the interests of reducing a deficit. “The Material and Supplies budget was cut last year and the year before that to help us save money,” Redell said. “In general, we want to try to be strategic about cutting [department budgets].”

Another potential concern for UCC students regarding a deficit is the construction of the new Health, Nursing and Science Center, which is set to be completed in June, 2017. Although a deficit may affect how the public perceives the project, much of the money for the project was received from fund raising in the community, as well as a grant of $8.5 million from the state to complete construction, and those funds are earmarked.

“When you raise money through donation and grants, you’re telling people what you’re using it for; you cannot spend it elsewhere,” Redell said. Because the money raised for the new building is earmarked for that specific project, it therefore is unavailable for other accounts. 

While Redell stated that the school is not currently considered to be in an official deficit situation, she assures that the school is conscious of budget cuts and student interest and will take into consideration a broad scope of things before making any decisions about budgeting.