Confusion over $32 million projected deficit explained

Community members convene for public comment at the board of trustees meeting on Feb. 28, 2019. Photo by Jared Lue/The Guardsman

By Peter J. Suter


The February board of trustees meeting left City College trustees, top administrators and the larger college community dismayed and confused about how the institution’s projected budget deficit swelled from $11 million to $32 million.


Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Dianna Gonzales said the projected budget deficit of $11.5 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is currently supplemented by one-time funding adjustments. The budget deficit is projected to increase to $32 million since those funds will most likely be depleted next fiscal year, she said.


The depleted funds include the college’s Parcel Tax funds, expected to run out this fiscal year; the Supplemental Employee Retirement Plan (SERP), an incentive package projected to save the college $7.7 million; and the college’s capital outlay funds, which are precariously low.


City College must maintain 5 percent of its unrestricted fund (U-fund) reserves to avoid triggering a warning from the State Chancellor’s Office. Administration emphasizes the need for structural changes to the schedule to ensure long-term cost savings.


Cause of $20 million increase


Vice Chancellor of Finance Luther Aaberge said that during this fiscal year, the college spent as if it met its projected enrollment numbers, which predicted to increase from anticipated success of the Free City marketing campaign. The campaign cost roughly $1.5 million between March 2017 and December 2018.


Enrollment, however, did not increase as expected. City College’s glitchy registration and record-keeping software Banner 9 exacerbated the enrollment shortfall, adding approximately $8 million to deficit spending. Expenses for part-time hires and benefits increased due to the anticipated higher enrollment and resulted in a $12 million increase to last year’s deficit.


“This is the problem with ‘projected numbers,’ the budget is always malleable,” said Simon Hanson, First Vice President of the Academic Senate and member of City College’s budget committee. He has advocated for the committee to make a budget and stick to the budget.


Administration plans to reduce costs


To reach a balanced budget, the administration is currently working on building a “student centered” budget and class schedule– both of which are closely linked. The goal of the administration is to grow enrollment, but transition towards the new state funding formula that focuses more on graduation rates and transfer degrees than primarily enrollment.


The college has entered a three-year “hold-harmless” period, which was implemented to help transition the college towards the new state formula.

Community members convene for public comment at the board of trustees meeting on Feb. 28, 2019. Photo by Jared Lue/The Guardsman

Going forward with budget reports


In affect, even though January’s presentation had the same budget number as February’s board meeting, this was the first time the board had seen the total numbers presented. “We just need to be more deliberate about saying here’s what it [budget] really looks like, but here’s how we can end the year the way we’re planning on,” Gonzales said.


Speaking on the complexity of the budget matters, Trustee John Rizzo expressed the need for a board of trustee budget committee.


“There’s still some explaining that would be useful to people, including myself, that they [administration] could do,” Rizzo said. “I like to see the numbers laid out. I think it’s the complexity of how to present this information in two hours that caused some confusion.”


1 Comment

  1. It should be noted that, at the same time Administration laid off several counselors, many of whom were newly hired, and the Chancellor has cut several classes (some of which were full) thereby impeding the academic progress of CCSF students, they (the Administrators and Chancellor) voted to give themselves (and the Board approved) a totally undeserved forty to fifty thousand dollar per year raise.
    Most administrators are now making well over two-hundred thousand dollars (they used to make between $140-160K per year). And this doesn’t include the housing and travel allowance many of them receive (many administrators do not even live in the area and “fly in” to work. In addition, the Chancellor chooses to outsource, at great expense, many projects to consultants, some to the tune of over a million dollars per year. You wonder why we have a deficit? Begin your search with the Administration.

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