Board unanimously approves college budget
The Laramie County Community College Board of Trustees made a unanimous vote on Nov. 30 to approve the college budget reduction plan for the next fiscal year. As a result, nine college employees will find themselves out of a job after Dec. 31.
According to a Wyoming Tribune Eagle article by Kristine Galloway posted on Dec. 1, Director of Human Resources Tammy Maas said the college staff who are losing jobs will receive a transition pay package. Employees can choose to appeal the decision.
The President’s Cabinet made amendments to the original budget reduction recommendation since presenting the plan to trustees on Nov. 16. The changes were released in a memo by President Dr. Joe Schaffer on Nov. 29.
One of the changes includes further reducing the part-time staffing budget of the Albany County Campus an additional $25,000, making the total savings now $128,500 rather than the prior $103,500.
As stated in the memo, “The $25,000 will be reinvested into the ACC to allow for the reconfiguration of one position to serve as afternoon/evening support for the ACC including room coordination, basic IT assistance, and campus safety and to also allow for the hiring of part-time administrative support during the day that will be required by the reconfiguration of said position.”
Another change in the reduction plan includes Public Relations and Marketing. As of now, there will be no further actual cuts to PR, but there was a reevaluation of the savings from the cuts already made.
The memo stated, “Upon further analysis of the impacts of the reorganization of Public Relations and Marketing, it is believed that the savings will be $175,000, $25,000 more than originally anticipated.” No other information on where the additional $25,000 in savings was found was provided in the memo.
The final amendment made to the reduction plan is a $5,000 reduction to the elimination of the science lab coordinator position.
According to the memo, “This recommendation was reduced by another $5,000 as a result of more detailed analysis of the impacts from shifting the responsibilities of science lab prep to faculty (requiring release time), as well as other costs that may be incurred for things such as science lab kit preparation.”
Additionally, Schaffer said in the memo that he is prepared for additional cuts if the state cuts back on funding for the college.
“As a result of changing political and economic situations, we are also developing a contingency plan in the amount of $1 million to proactively prepare for any additional cuts that may impact LCCC in the coming month,” Schaffer said.
Board votes for declaration of financial emergency
The board voted in favor of the declaration of a financial emergency during its meeting Nov. 16.
After board chairman Ed Mosher made the motion for the declaration, Trustee Don Erickson said, “I don’t think any one of us wants to make this motion, but it’s required and it has to be done.”
Trustee Bradley Barker III then seconded the motion, creating a board discussion on the motion before the vote.
“I know that the board and the college has policy on when to declare a financial emergency,” Trustee Brenda Lyttle said. “’When and why?’ I would like to review that… I would like to hear why Joe and the staff feels that it’s necessary for us to declare a financial emergency, and what would be the consequence if we do and if we don’t.”
Schaffer explained the reasoning behind his recommendation to declare a financial emergency.
“To meet the expectations for the reductions that the governor has set are real, which means that, per the governor’s directive, there will be less money coming from the state to LCCC than we’ve had previously,” Schaffer said. “As I’ve pointed out, over 70 percent of our expenditures are in personnel, which means that, to accommodate those reductions, we have to touch personnel. In some places where we can eliminate vacant positions or part-time, we recommended to do that. But to actually do reductions in force… then we have to fall under one of the three areas of policy. That would either be for the reallocation of resources, the lack of a need of a program, or for a financial emergency.”
“Your policy defines a financial emergency as being the withdrawal of funds or the anticipated withdrawal, or cuts of future funding by the state legislature, the governor, or the Wyoming Community College Commission,” Schaffer said.
Schaffer asked to confirm his assessment with the board’s attorney, Tara Nethercott, from a legal standpoint.
“Certainly, if the budget cannot be balanced, then there is a financial emergency,” Nethercott said. “What that looks like from year to year is difficult to determine and the causes of that emergency are also difficult to determine. But it is my legal opinion, Trustee Lyttle, that you are currently under a financial emergency and it is appropriate to declare one. You have tasked the president with cutting the budget and he needs to do that.”
There was no further discussion; trustees voted unanimously to approve the declaration of a financial emergency. After the vote, Schaffer wanted to add information about financial assistance for employees that get their positions cut.
“Employees who are RIF’d (reduction in force) essentially as a result of the financial emergency aren’t entitled to severance pay or anything…” Schaffer said. “But what we’re able to do, because of the approach we’ve taken, is actually utilize some of the salary savings that will come in this fiscal year only… and put together a financial assistance package for our employees. In rough terms, what that looks like is essentially four months equivalency for financial assistance that will go to employees in a lump sum to help them through this.”
In an interview after the meeting, Schaffer further explained why the declaration of a financial emergency was made and why it was declared at this time.
“The way they (the board) structured their policy is that they have to actually act before, so I can’t just go and start saying, ‘there’s no money coming from the governor, so you lose your job and you lose your job,’” Schaffer said. “The board has to say, ‘this is why we need to move in that direction…’ So, per their policy, they have to declare it for me to actually go in and implement changes that would impact personnel.”
Schaffer said that if the board had not made the declaration, it would have been a violation of board policy.
“The other thing I think they wanted was to make that declaration to be very close to the recommendations of how we would balance the budget,” Schaffer said. “So it was really more of a personal, philosophical approach about when to declare it. Ultimately, we knew we had to deal with it as soon as we got the governor’s letter.”
Schaffer discussed how this declaration differs from the financial emergency declared under former LCCC President Darrel Hammon.
“Not only have we asked the board to declare it, but we’ve actually given them a proposal of what we’re suggesting we’re going to do,” Schaffer said. “Whereas, previously, they got the board to declare it and that just gave the president free reign and then it happened overnight, nobody was aware of it. So it’s really a much more objective, much more transparent, inclusive process.”
In other action at the Nov. 30 Board of Trustees meeting:
Board Treasurer Don Erickson made a motion to amend the Emeritus Designation Policy. In a section of the policy, it states, “A Trustee is considered to be retired when he/she has fulfilled at least two full terms on the Board and has elected to serve no further.” Erickson asked to change, “…and has elected to serve no further” to “…and serves on the board no longer” for better clarity.
Trustee Brenda Lyttle made a motion to amend the Board Self-Evaluation Policy. It states in the policy that Board members will perform a self-evaluation in the fall but didn’t specify exactly which months. Lyttle voted to amend the policy to say, “at least once a year in the months of October or November” for better clarity.For full coverage of the board meetings, go to wingspan.lccc.wy.edu