Potential Cuts, Control On College Board Agenda

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With a looming deficit and little power of its own, Gila Community College board members will discuss Thursday both potential budget cuts and new ways to exert influence over their affairs.

But first, they must determine how large the deficit actually is.

In mid-June, the Gila Community College board adopted a seemingly balanced $6.1 million budget with a $2 million surplus. At the time however, officials acknowledged the surplus existed only on paper.

Then about a week later, Senior Dean Stephen Cullen told members the college had a $2 million deficit.

And at an early July work-study session where board members discussed potential cuts, the purported deficit dropped to $500,000, said board member Larry Stephenson.

“One week, there’s a $2 million surplus, the next, a $2 million deficit,” he said. “It’s hard to wrap my head around.”

Additionally, because GCC is a provisional college and cannot hire staff, it has no one to track the numbers coming from Eastern Arizona College, which runs GCC.

Thursday at 3 p.m. in room 402 on the Payson campus, the board will again meet to discuss cost-saving measures including increasing tuition by anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent, raising the age for senior scholarships, and reducing the number of scholarships offered to younger students. GCC may be able to set its own tuition. However, board members are still sorting out what other powers they may have.

“The biggest issue,” Stephenson said, is “that we have certain responsibilities — legal, moral and otherwise — and little control.”

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