Western Wyoming Must Cut Budget by 10 Percent

Western Wyoming Must Cut Budget by 10 Percent

ROCK SPRINGS — After listening to students, employees and concerned residents, the Western Wyoming Community College Board of Trustees has started taking steps to reduce its budget by 10 percent.

During Western’s board meeting Thursday evening, trustees unanimously approved a declaration of financial emergency. The financial emergency declaration states Western will need to reduce its Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget by 10 percent per the request of Governor Mark Gordon. This means Western will need to find a way to cut 875,000 from its budget.

In addition to these cuts, Governor Gordon has asked Western to be prepared to cut an additional 10 percent for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. This means Western will need to cut its general fund by $935,000.

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The reason for the budget cuts is due to a projected $1.5 billion shortfall to the state’s revenue from a reduction of income in oil, natural gas, and coal.

Western will look at several areas, including labor, organizational design, academic affairs, technology and IT support, facilities and auxiliary services, and spending and contracts, to reduce its budget.

“We’re looking at all the facets,” Western’s Board President Regina Clark said.

Clark said Western’s President Dr. Kim Dale and a team are coming up with various scenarios on how to cut $875,000 from the budget. Clark said the suggestions made at Thursday’s meeting will be taking into consideration when creating these scenarios.

The team will not only present the scenarios to the board, but make a recommendation to the board on which one to go with. The board will then make a decision. A virtual special board meeting will take place on Thursday, September 17. A time has yet to be determined.

“I’m really hoping we have some really good scenarios to look at,” Clark said.

During Thursday’s meeting about 134 people attended. Clark said the board made sure to allow anyone who wanted to comment about this particular subject to have that opportunity. Clark said the board didn’t discuss the budget issue too much because it wanted to hear what the community had to say.

“We did listening only because we want to give everybody time to talk,” Clark said.

Clark said hosting the meeting in a Zoom format was challenging, but she made sure leave a long pause to make sure everyone who wanted to speak had a chance to do so.

I wanted them to feel like we were open to listen to any suggestions. This is their community college.

~Regina Clark

Clark said she wanted to make sure residents understood all of Wyoming is struggling from the impacts of lost revenue not just Western.

Already Cut The Budget

Clark said cutting the budget isn’t something new to the college. In March, the college decided on its own to cut 10 percent from the budget due to declining enrollment.

“We knew we’d be heading in this direction eventually,” Clark said. “As a college, and as a board we’ve always tried to be very fiscally responsible to the community and the taxpayers because ultimately they are the ones that suffer.”

Clark said they have some reserves set aside, but they don’t want to use all of those reserves in case the college has an emergency.

Making A Decision

Clark said if Western had to layoff employees, under the employment contract they must give employees a 90-day notice. She said this would mean the employees would be notified September 24 because the semester ends December 14.

“I don’t know that that’s what we’re going to have to do at this point,” Clark said. “We might be just looking at programs.”

She said they want to be very respectful if laying off employees if that is the route they have to take.

“We are absolutely going to do everything we can and look at every avenue that we can and make sure that everybody ends up on the good end of it,” Clark said. “I know we can’t make everybody happy, but we’ve got to do what’s good for the whole community and students.”

“I hope through this decision-making process that we’ll have looked through every possible corner to make sure that we are doing the right thing for everybody,” Clark said.

We’re going to face the music to do the best that we can do and remember that there’s human beings involved in this. It isn’t just numbers on a piece of paper.

~Regina Clark