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PCC Board Approves '97-98 Fiscal Year Budget
Photos and Story by Mark Evertz
Portland Community College, the largest institution of higher learning in Oregon, approved a proposed general fund budget of $89,350,394 for the 1997-98 operating year. The board of directors will hold a meeting with the Multnomah County Tax Commission on May 15. Pending certification by the tax commission, the PCC board meets on June 19 to adopt the budget.
"The year has presented the board with funding challenges and some tough decisions," said Dana Anderson, board chair. "President Moriarty and the board have looked carefully and closely at how to manage the reductions to programs and staffing and put together a budget plan that will least impact college services. I am confident that with this budget we will be able to meet the needs of students and the community."
The fiscal year 1998 budget is slightly more than last year’s general fund budget of $87,565,947. The $2.2 million increase is due in part to contractual agreements with bargaining groups at the college, cost increases in benefits, and in facilities.
However, the budget this year reflects a shift in financial prioritizing brought on by Measure 47. Measure 47 not only limits property taxes; it also prohibits bond monies for repairs and maintenance of buildings. Due to these changes, it has been necessary for the college to begin to reserve a larger portion of its general fund dollars for maintenance.
According to a study done by PCC’s Administrative Services office, costs for maintenance and repair are projected at $50 million over the next 10 years. To begin to address those costs, the college increased ongoing support from the general fund for maintenance and repair from $.8 million per year to $3.2 million each year.
Portland Community College President Dan Moriarty said one effect of Measure 47 is that budget dollars dedicated to teaching and instructional and operational support must now be shifted to physical plant support. "We are being called upon to do more with less," he said. "But we are committed to providing strong instructional and student service programs for the communities we serve." Moriarty added that the 1998 budget is predicated on the Legislature’s replacing lost property taxes and funding community colleges at levels requested by the Governor. Measure 47 directs the state first to find replacement revenue for education and public safety.
To find ways to balance the budget and meet maintenance and repair needs, the college has taken a two-pronged approach. First, a 2 percent across the board cut in department budgets has been instituted. Second, $2.7 million in cuts in instruction, administration and college support have been made.
Full or partial cuts have been made to the following programs: opticianry, fire prevention, aviation, small business development and printing technology. In addition, the office of vice president of Education Services has been eliminated, as well as campus operations offices on the three campuses. The position of enrollment manager has also been eliminated on each campus, as well as the Veteran Affairs manager position. Staff in other departments have also been cut.
The funding environment for Portland Community College and other schools and local governments has changed significantly since the passage of Measure 5 in 1990, and again with the passage of Measure 47 in 1996. Funding to PCC from state revenues is more than half of the college’s total general fund in 1998, up from approximately 25 percent in 1990. Local property taxes, once providing 60 percent of the revenue, have dropped to less than one-third.
Another piece of the proposed budget focuses on enhancements to learning. "Despite this difficult funding environment," said Moriarty, "our commitment to teaching and learning will remain strong. We have taken every opportunity to maintain, even enhance, strong instructional programs." Given that principle, the budget allows for converting 11.5 part-time faculty positions to full-time faculty. And $400,00 will be committed to CAD and multimedia equipment, and to equipment in the aviation facility, now being renovated. Finally, $250,000 will be dedicated to classroom resources at both the Rock Creek and Cascade campuses.