Community college addresses projected $800,000 deficit
January 23, 2013
BUTLER TWP — A combination of low student enrollment and a smaller annual contribution from Butler County could contribute to an $800,000 deficit at the end of the year for Butler County Community College. Jim Hrabosky, finance director for BC3, told the college’s board of trustees last Wednesday that as of Dec. 31 the college had collected about $11.1 million in revenues, but spent about $12.94 million, a disparity of about $1.8 million. Dec. 31 marked the halfway point of the college’s 2012-13 year, which runs through June 30. The college is yet to collect its most recent quarterly payment from the county, about $1.2 million, but expects to get that in the next few days, bringing the budget disparity down to about $650,000 in the red, Hrabosky said. If the current rate of spending versus income continues, he projected BC3 will end the year with an $800,000 deficit. The county commissioners in the 2013 county budget cut about $333,000 from its funding contribution to BC3, bringing the 2013 county allocation to about $4.71 million. Part of that decision was based on the college having an operating fund balance of more than $12 million, an amount the county commissioners considered high. “It’s all part of the equation,” BC3 President Nick Neupauer said of the impact of that cut. As of Jan. 15, the spring semester’s first day of class, BC3 reported 3,301 students enrolled, taking 33,888 total credits, more than a 10 percent drop from the 3,673 full and part-time students taking 37,685 total credits in spring 2012. “It wasn’t long ago it appeared (enrollment had dropped by) 13 or 14 percent. Now it is at about 10 percent, and we still are entering students into the school’s database,” Neupauer said, suggesting the situation may look worse on paper than it is in actuality. Neupauer said the board is examining everything from class sizes to creative class scheduling to minimize costs while ensuring a high quality of education. Also, the board was briefed on the possibility of a large-scale capital campaign by the BC3 Education Foundation, the college’s fundraising branch. Ruth Purcell, director of the foundation, filled in the board on results provided in December by the Armistead Group, which did a feasibility study last year on whether a large fundraising campaign would be fruitful. Purcell said 97 percent of community feedback on the college was favorable, as was confidence in its leadership, quality of education and role in the community, based on 75 people surveyed. The survey was not random and concentrated on individuals in a position to benefit the college’s fundraising effort, she said. Upgrades to the college’s Beck Library emerged as the top initiative that respondents supported. Purcell said no recommendation was made on the goal amount of any capital campaign, nor has a direct plan been plotted.