Struggling to make ends meet with depleted state funding and rising costs, Cayuga Community College is looking for ways to cut back on spending.

At the college's Jan. 16 board of trustees meeting, Diane Hutchinson, vice president for academic affairs, said the college suffered a 5 percent revenue shortage during the fall semester. Opining that CCC would likely not meet its enrollment goals, Hutchinson told the trustees that the college needed to cut costs.

"We can't really put a further burden on students, and we can't depend on funds from the state," she said.

Daniel Larson, CCC's president, said the state has not fulfilled its funding obligations to SUNY schools, forcing public colleges to depend too heavily on tuition.

Tuition currently accounts for 48 percent of CCC's operating budget, Larson said. So when student enrollment failed to meet expectations last fall, dropping 3 percent from the fall of 2011 to the fall of 2012, the college's reserves suffered a blow.

"The shortfall in government funding over the past several years has really caught up," Larson said.

And after spending years finding "creative" ways to work with the college's reserves, the college, like many other public schools, has run out of rainy day funds. So to operate within its means, Larson said CCC has started to make some tough, cost-cutting decisions.

"Is it easy?" he asked. "No. Never."

Along with reducing the hours of part-time employees, Larson said the college has cut travel expenses, halted making equipment purchases and asked department heads to take a second look at their expenses.

"We need to make certain whatever choices we make will not harm the students that we work with," he explained. "So it's looking at those areas...where we do have some flexibility."

Larson said the last thing he wants to do is layoff employees. So, the president said the administration has also asked union employees to consider taking unpaid days off, and spoken to bargaining units in an attempt to find additional ways to cut costs.

"Furlough days would certainly be one area where we could do that," Larson said. "It's all in the realm of things we've been exploring to figure out how we can take care of this budgeting issue."

Finding an exact number to accurately detail CCC's budgeting issue isn't easy.

With three more semesters of enrollment numbers left to tally, Larson said it will be midsummer before the college knows exactly what shape its budget is in.

"As we try to project what those numbers look like, if trends continue without any intervention, we could potentially see a shortfall of $1.5 million," he said. "We want to make sure people know its not a couple thousand dollars."

As the college waits for its final spring and summer enrollment numbers, Larson said the administration will continue to look for ways to shave off expenses in ways that inflict as little harm as possible. In the meantime, he encouraged the community to pitch cost-cutting suggestions.

"We're trying to work in a way that's transparent," Larson said. "We welcome ideas from the college community over how best to address this."

Staff writer Samantha House can be reached at 282-2282 or samantha.house@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at Citizen_House.

(10) comments

patchwork

Years of poor fiscal management, bad real estate deals and getting into projects where they had no business, like building a theater downtown, have finally caught up with them and now working people will become the ones who take the hit. It's not like we didn't see this train wreck coming!

fullytaxed

Patchwork your right on the mark. This vindicates much of what many of us have been saying. A second theater driven by the elites that think is a great idea as long as someone else takes the risk and PAYs for it.. A sport complex ? A dorm project? I have asked myself this. If education funds have been drying up, cutbacks in every school district, layoffs, furloughs, schools closing. Where are these projects getting the money. We aren't talking about building a science labs, lecture halls or maybe more classrooms. We are spending money on luxuries. a second theater? A sport complex? A dorm complex?What next a couple Olympic swimming pool?. Its only state money, We forget where the state gets its money. The elites may want to take example from a real Citizen of Auburn, Dr. Karpinski he gives back to Auburn without PILOTS, without fanfare and gains nothing financially. Its not about Him, its about the community he very much cares for. Yes Patchwork the train wreck is now here.

gtv

I wouldn't call this a train wreck, by any means. Now if they had to layoff 15 to 20% of their workers or had the situation like McQuay then that is a train wreck.

As far as them putting up a new teaching facility causing this, they had the opportunity to create a world class teaching facility that will attract more students that can get an education at very fair prices compared to so many schools. They took advantage of receiving major funding from private donors, private foundations and government funds ear market for investment and redevelopment. I realize we all have different opinions and outlooks and we are entitle to them. Mine is it sounds like a major win for the future of Auburn to me.

patchwork

We're just getting the intial impact and they still don't know the actual shortfall. Many times these issues have a way of growing far beyond their initial estimates. I'm glad that Larson wants to be transparent, but waiting some 52 days and releasing it on a Friday night tells me otherwise.

MrDuck

Transparent??? If he is trying to be transparent, why is the Citizen just reporting this now? Has there not been a reporter at every BOT meeting? Amazing that in January, the "fiscal crisis" was glazed over, and all the Citizen could report was the fluff about the new theater. Lets talk about how the administration saw this coming more than a year ago, but chose to ignore it. Shame on you, Dr. Larson, for the expensive remodel of your office and boardroom in September, of not giving up your 5.5% increase the Legislature handed you in September, of still blowing taxpayer money knowing full well the pot was empty, and of balancing the shortfall on the backs of the "support staff" as you so affectionately refer to. Open the books to a full INDEPENDENT audit. To the citizens of Cayuga County, I encourage you to FOIL information. Get informed, and stop being Sheeples.

X123

The fox's are running the hen house. The president and CFO have blown a 4 million dollar fund balance in recent years. Paying $70,000 a month in rent for the "old" broadway campus in Fulton until 2016, paying too much for the "new" unfinished Fulton campus. Pushing a project for the city disguised as a student run theatre. A 400 bed dorm that can not be filled if enrollment is declining. The college is a business that's being run into the ground unchecked. if this was any other business the president and upper management would be fired.


patchwork

Extremely interesting. From the December board meeting minutes and an audit-"There was a re-cap of the financial statements, and a note that there is a net decrease in cash by $5.2 million."
A shortfall appeared to be noted even in the October meeting and lower enrollments in other meetings.
Come on Citizen get to work and do some investigative reporting on really went on.

stand4democracy

Is it enrollment problem? Or poor financial management?

stand4democracy

I am curious to know how much of the budget deficit is due to declining enrollments vs. poor fiscal and financial management. My niece works at a cc in another state and tells me there was a similar problem at her college; the charge was to always increase new enrollments because so many students left before graduating. Does Cayuga have the same problem? If so, was this not budgeted for?

auburndog

@GTV- "world class teaching facility?" hahahahahahaha!!!! It's the same as the other one - an old strip mall. "Good for the city of Auburn?" It's in Fulton. Really - please know your facts before posting. He took a 5.5 percent increase!!!! Tell me how that's good!!!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.