Trustees Discuss Budget Crisis

By Jay Sea

Trustees gathered in the Multi-Use Building on Jan. 23 for the first regular meeting of 2020 and the focus of the agenda was a newly completed financial audit, which examined the spending and budget of City College.

The audit findings point to a glaring red flag of deficit spending in the school’s budgeting going back three years. The auditors highlighted this in a section of their report, entitled “Emphasis of Matter Regarding Growing Concern.” This is a repeat finding of the prior year, now compromising the school’s compliance with the State and its ability to continue financially.

Independent accounting firm Eide Bailly has audited more than thirty community colleges in the area, including City College. Eide Bailly consultant Brandon Harrison has been presenting his findings to the board since 2015. Harrison’s report drew attention to an alarming concern he labeled “material weaknesses” in the school’s budget. Since 2015, overspending, lack of oversight, and a dramatic decrease in stable funding has led to a 58% decrease in the general fund. The school’s budget was approved despite projected revenues being very inaccurate, the report revealed. Expenditures have exceeded revenues, with a loss of $36 million over two years. 

Recently re-elected Trustee Ivy Lee asked the auditors a series of questions about how City College should handle the situation. The trustees discussed solutions for getting the budget on track, going forward. The trustees generally agreed that more supervision and more active oversight of the budget was needed. Trustee Tom Temprano said, “Our current level of monitoring is not adequate.”

The findings reveal City College is currently not within the required 5% reserves to be in State compliance. The agenda item calling for response and corrective action was delayed until February by Chancellor Mark Rocha.

The meeting concluded with the Board electing Shanell Williams as the new board president, taking over the position from Trustee Alex Randolph. Temprano was re-elected as Vice President. The next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees is scheduled for Feb. 27.

The Guardsman