CNCC moving forward with budget, projects

Funding from state still unknown

Although the legislature's Joint Budget Committee will not cut $300 million from higher education to balance the state's budget, Colorado Northwestern Community College still faces budget questions, officials said.

As a requirement for obtaining $760 million in State Stabilization Funds from the American Recovery Act, the state needed to maintain the current levels of funding for higher education.

On April 13, Gov. Bill Ritter announced that the $300 million would have to come from another source.

Gene Bilodeau, CNCC vice president of administration, said that while the state will not cut $300 million from higher education, questions still remained with the school's budget.

"The big debacle was when the JBC needed to balance the budget, and had to cut $300 million from either higher education or take it from the Pinnacol worker's compensation program," Bilodeau said. "But, we're still waiting to hear what funding will be available from the state."

Bilodeau said the school's budget needs to be completed by the end of June.

"We're still waiting to see what happens in Denver - we are in wait and see mode," he said. "We've been in cabinet meetings working on next year's budget.

"We've had to work on assumptions - there are no hard numbers yet. We don't know what the state allocation will be, and even if we get the same amount we had last year, the cost of business has gone up."

Bilodeau said the college had cut 5 percent of this year's budget, and next year there might be cuts ranging from 7 to 15 percent.

He said it was unknown where possible cuts might occur.

"That's what we're trying to figure out now," he said. "We're looking at all areas. It could be across the board cuts from each department."

CNCC President John Boyd said any cuts would come from three areas - operating costs, personnel and travel expenses.

There is one area where the cuts would not come from, however.

Boyd said funds for the Craig campus expansion are separate from operation funds and could not be cut.

"The projects are from different pots of money," Boyd said. "You can't take money from the building pot and put it in the operation pots."

Funds for an academic building come from the state mineral lease bill, and the gift giving campaign, and can't be used elsewhere.

Bilodeau said partnerships with companies also were needed.

"We want to form a partnership with people who want to invest in a long-term relationship," Bilodeau said.

The first phase of the infrastructure build-out is almost complete, Boyd said, and the college is looking to continue its expansion.

Boyd said the college would weather the financial uncertainty by expanding its programs, and increasing its student population.

"By maintaining good programs and aggressive marketing and recruiting we'll be in good shape," Boyd said. "The best thing for the college is the best thing for Craig."

Bilodeau said the college faced a similar situation in 2001.

"This is something we've been through before," he said. "You can get anxious and unnerved, or you can plow right through it.

"At 53 years old, I'm too old to get anxious."

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