How does it work? A primer on Colorado Northwestern Community College finances

Sasha Nelson
CNCC President Ronald Granger
File Photo

Editor’s note: This is the first of three Q&A stories with Colorado Northwestern Community College’s President Ron Granger.

— Colorado Northwestern Community College is in the process of restructuring to address a $1.3 million loss of local revenue.

Late last year, the college took roughly $500,000 from cash reserves and was placed under a temporary hiring freeze by the Colorado Community College System to allow the new president time to examine the budget.

CNCC President Ron Granger intends to present the 2017-18 budget to the college board at the monthly meeting on May 15. We caught up with him, to help the community better understand the college’s finances. President Ron Granger intends to present the 2017-18 budget to the college board at the monthly meeting on May 15.

Craig Daily Press: Where does the college receive revenue and how much revenue is generally received from each source?

Granger: Overall we receive approximately $12.5 million from tuition/fees, state, other services and local funds. The split is about 40 percent in tuition/fees, 36 percent in state funds, 2 percent in other services and 22 percent from our boards. The general funds we get are from tuition/fees, state money and other services. We also get funds from a local levy in both college areas. These funds are under the control of the local boards. However, the boards have provided much of those funds to the college for operational purposes. The breakdown of what we receive from each varies based on many factors.

CDP: Some revenue streams are projected to decrease in 2018-19, would you describe the amounts and reasons for projected decreased revenue?

Granger: The decrease is coming from local revenues. A major decrease in assessed valuation means the two local boards combined will receive approximately $1.3 million less this coming year. The decrease is coming from local revenues.

CDP: Where is the money spent? Where is the money spent?

Granger: Our expenditures range greatly in different areas. Facilities and maintenance is one of the largest budgets because that budget includes utility cost, maintenance, custodial and grounds. As far as programs, we do have high cost programs but on the other hand are able to have differential tuition (higher tuition rates) for most of those programs. Nursing, dental hygiene, and aviation are the three most costly programs but also are three of the programs that consistently bring in full time enrollment (FTE) to the college. The local funds through the tax levy are only spent on the local campus — Moffatt County at Craig and part of Rio Blanco County at Rangely.

CDP: What is the process/es the college goes through during budget setting?

Granger: As with all budgets, we first estimated what our revenues would be. At that point we started working on expenses to see how we could match the two. Because of the expected loss in revenue for next year we had to look at reducing expenses. We started working on that in October. We got input from different CNCC individuals, the Colorado Community College System staff, and other colleges to see what things we could reduce and still provide a quality education to the students. We used the “best practices” approach which follows what other colleges are doing but at the same time knowing that some circumstances are different at CNCC.

CDP: Has the college been living within its means, by your assessment?

Granger: I don’t have a definite answer on this. I know that reserves had to be used last year but do not know all the circumstances on why that happened. Many colleges have faced similar situations. I can say that going forward we will be more conservative on our estimations of revenue and FTE so we will be able to budget expenses accordingly. With that being said, we will plan our budget so we will be sustainable in the future.

CDP: Financial records are public. Where would people go to learn more?

Granger: Each local board maintains their financials, and that information can be obtained by contacting those boards. The Colorado Community College System has the financials for all community colleges in the system for the general funds.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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