Budget deficit predicted to grow by $1 million, council seeks solution

Budget deficit predicted to grow by $1 million, council seeks solution

Serena Guentz, Features Editor

Mid-year budget projections presented to the College Planning Council estimate the college’s deficit will grow from $3.2 million to $4.3 million by late June of this year. 

Fiscal Services Controller James Zavas shared City College’s mid-year budget projections at the Tuesday meeting. 

After the projections were presented, the main question among the council was “where do we go from here?”

Councilmembers spent most of the meeting considering different ways to improve the budget, such as with a Supplemental Retirement Plan or a business process review.

“At a minimum, we have to reduce our $4.3 million deficit to $1.8 million,” Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami said.

The $1.8 million is the amount of projected undesignated reserves by the end of June.

Goswami said that improving the budget should be a two-sided approach: increase revenue and decrease personal costs.

“There are lots of areas we should be spending money and there is no money,” Goswami said.

Some councilmembers brought up the idea to bring in an internal auditor as former Interim Superintendent-President Helen Benjamin suggested in her exit report.

“When someone like Dr. Benjamin brings that up, it raises to me some concerns that we’re not pursuing that,” said Academic Senate representative Ruth Morales.

However, Goswami did not think an internal auditor would be effective for City College and its needs, especially given the high expense of an audit.

Goswami suggested that the college should continue to focus on income brought in by nonresidential students.

“We cannot give up entirely on nonresident tuition income,” Goswami said. “By serving nonresident populations, we also serve ourselves.”

The budget development assumptions, also presented by Zavas, showed that the decline in international enrollment is assumed to continue over the next fiscal year.

“Sometimes it feels like we don’t live out wanting international students here. In the past couple years [the Board of Trustees] has increased the tuition,” said Academic Senate President-Elect Raeanne Napoleon, mentioning that increasing the nonresident tuition is counterproductive.

The Board of Trustees recently increased the nonresident tuition fee, but Goswami said that the state required the board to choose one of five options for the fee increase and they chose the lowest.

At the end of the budget discussion, Academic Senate President Patricia Stark asked the council to look at City College’s budget development values.

“These are the values that we developed last year as we started this conversation,” Stark said. “I don’t even know if the values are agreed upon by the people at this table, but right now they are what we have.”

The College Planning Council will reconvene at its next meeting on Tuesday, March 3.

“I don’t want to raise the alarm like a fire alarm, but I want to raise the alarm that we need to figure out a way to shape the institution the way we want it to be,” Goswami said.