City College’s Board of Trustees discussed the ideas of creating an auditor position and a separate committee to tackle budget and financial issues at its study session on Thursday.
Study sessions offer the board a chance to hear presentations and have open discussions without taking any action.
The idea to form a finance committee, brought forward by Trustee Marsha Croninger, was met with mixed approval from the board.
“[The budget committee] can be helpful to the board in terms of doing its work,” Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami said. “At the same time, the majority of the other budget oversight happens here.”
The board is responsible for making budget decisions, and a committee would delegate some of that work away.
“It’s one of our major responsibilities,” said Board President Robert Miller. “I’m not convinced that we need a committee to deal with it.”
The idea to hire an auditor position at the college, brought to the board last semester by former Interim Superintendent-President Helen Benjamin, was discussed as a second option at the meeting.
Multiple trustees agreed with the idea to have a spot audit for the school, but did not believe hiring a full-time administrator for the job was necessary.
“I don’t see a good way not to have an internal auditor,” Croninger said.
The cost of the position also brought up some issues with other trustees.
“My first step in either case would be to examine: can this be done internally without adding to the budget woes?” said Board Vice President Peter Haslund.
Haslund recommended that of the options, the board should form a committee before the college creates an entirely new position.
Miller agreed, and reminded the trustees that the budget is ultimately the board’s responsibility.
“I get concerned that that’s going to put additional demands on the administration,” Miller said. “I think all of us have an obligation to be doing a deep dive on the numbers.”
Another point of discussion at the meeting was a proposal by Haslund to hire an ombudsperson for the college.
An ombudsperson would handle complaints and issues with the campus climate, taking some of the pressure off the superintendent-president, Haslund said.
Many board members believed the college must first repair its internal trust before bringing in an outside hire.
“Once we have fundamental trust… then the ombudsperson becomes an additional service,” Goswami said. “That’s when the ombuds role is the most effective.”
Similar to issues with hiring an auditor, hiring an ombudsperson would also impact the budget.
“It’s a wonderful thing, and yet there are many wonderful things we wish we could do and we can’t afford,” Croninger said.
The Board of Trustees will reconvene for its next regular meeting on March 12.