ROCK SPRINGS — Eliminating vacant positions and reducing how much Western Wyoming Community College pays its employees in stipends and retirement contributions is how Western will look to cut $875,000 from its budget.
Western’s Board of Trustees met at a special meeting Monday evening to review four scenarios on how to cut the budget.
Since the board found out it needed to reduce its Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget by 10 percent, which equates to $875,000, per the request of Governor Mark Gordon, the trustees have been hosting special meetings to discuss how to make those cuts.
During tonight’s meeting, the trustees looked at four scenarios.
They decided to go with Scenario 1, which is option the college’s cabinet recommended. Under this scenario 10 vacant positions will be eliminated immediately. They include custodian II, PC support technician, facility use/purchasing office assistant, workforce services office assistant, costume designer, history faculty, chemistry faculty, music faculty, biology/natural science faculty, and the student success advisor (this position will be effective until December 11, 2020).
Under this scenario, reducing the institutional employee stipend by $300 and the college’s contribution to their employees’ retirement by 2 percent per year effective January 1, 2021, will also take place. Western will also eliminate $200,000 in budgeted salary correction recommendations from a market compensation study.
“You can see that Western offers some nice, generous benefits to our employees and that has been something that has been very, very important to our employees…” Western’s President Dr. Kim Dale said.
When college surveys are completed, employees always have benefits at the top of the list, she said. The cabinet took all of this into consideration when coming up with a recommendation.
Chief Financial Officer Burt Reynolds said they are not only looking at cutting this year, but next year as well.
Reynolds said he has been told to expect a 10 percent cut in state aid, which amounts to about $1.7 million.
He said they already cut 5 percent of that this year and will take 5 percent again next year. On top of this, the college has been asked to plan on cutting up to 10 percent in next year’s budget as well.
“As of right now, we’ve been told to plan on 10 percent and so that’s what we’re doing,” Reynolds said.
Scenario 1 shows eliminating 10 vacant positions will save the college $582,000, while reducing the employee stipend by $300 will save $31,050 for half a year and reducing the college’s contribution to the employees’ retirement by 2 percent will save $120,000. [The college currently pays about 9 percent in addition to the normal 9 percent it pays toward their employees’ retirement contribution.]
Eliminating the $200,000 in salary adjustments was also removed. Trustee George Eckman said he knows the board promised to make salary adjustments, but due to a financial crisis they cannot due that at this time.
Reynolds went through the other three scenarios and explained why the college wasn’t recemending them at this time.
He said the board would be making decisions based on current information and not what information it may receive in the future, which is why he was only recommending Scenario 1 at this time.
“I really do believe that Wyoming has an opportunity to redefine itself and recover,” Trustee Shannon Honaker said. “I think the community colleges are going to be a significant player in all of that.”
However, she said this isn’t going to happen overnight and she wanted to focus on how the college can continue to be a healthy institution for the future.
“Because I really believe a healthy institution is the one that most capable of keeping its employees,” Honaker said.
She suggested the board look more closely at Scenario 2. “I think that we should plan for more cuts,” Honaker said.
Honaker said she didn’t want to nickel and dime the situation. She thought it would be better for employees to know sooner than later what they are going to have.
She felt Scenario 2 would put the college in a healthier position than Scenario 1.
After looking at the Scenarios again and more explanation from Reynolds on how he believes Scenario 1 is the best option for the college at this time, Honaker said she would support any decision the board would make.
A motion was made to approve Scenario 1 and unanimously approved. The board agreed they can always adjust and re-exam the numbers in the future.
The Other Scenarios
Reynolds said these options were more for board information than for action.