Gila Community College Senior Dean Stephen Cullen says no staffers are receiving raises next year, but a document Eastern Arizona College provided to GCC board members says otherwise.
Stuck somewhere in the roughly 70 pages Eastern presented to GCC board members outlining budget specifics, a sheet shows raises for 10 administrative staffers who remain on a once-weekly furlough to save money.
“I have no idea what they’re referring to,” said Cullen. “None whatsoever.”
Neither did board chairman Bob Ashford. “Apparently you’ve got a document we don’t have,” he said.
Board member Tom Loeffler asked Cullen about the raises during Thursday’s meeting, where members also approved a $4.5 million budget.
Also Thursday, Ashford pledged to create understandable budget documents himself before next month’s meeting, should Eastern again fail to provide them. The board has grown increasingly frustrated with what members say is confusing financial information.
For instance, the sheet that lists administrative pay does not even have aligned columns. The information appears as a big blob of letters and numbers.
Throughout last year’s arduous budget-balancing measures, which included tuition hikes, staff pay cuts and scholarship slashes, Eastern barely provided any information to alert Gila board members of the college’s overall finances.
“I’m very disappointed in the information we get from our provider,” said board member Larry Stephenson Thursday, Stephenson has been asking for a more understandable format for years.
“I felt it was very poorly presented also,” said Ashford. “We’re going to get something together by the next meeting, even if I have to put it together myself.”
Cullen said that might not be possible. “These documents are the same documents that the EAC board gets,” he said. Cullen works for EAC because the contract between the two schools prohibits Gila from employing any educators.
When Loeffler asked if some staffers were receiving raises next year, Ashford and Cullen appeared flustered.
“What is he asking?” asked Cullen, who said he didn’t understand the question. Initially, he explained that staffers were still on furlough. Loeffler then told Cullen that he didn’t answer the question.
“This is just a meeting to pass the budget,” said Ashford. “It wasn’t the goal of today’s meeting to hash out budget details.” He added, “Dr. Cullen is not prepared because this wasn’t on the agenda.”
Eastern’s chief budget officer Tim Curtis didn’t respond to a request for clarification.
The sheet crafted by Eastern shows 10 staffers receiving raises of anywhere from 3 percent to under 1 percent. Cullen, for instance, is set to receive $91,016 next year, up from $90,154, according to the sheet.
According to Cullen, however, his salary won’t increase. “None of our deans have received raises,” he said.
Loeffler said he wasn’t criticizing any possible pay increase, but only wondering how raises would affect furloughs.
Stephenson said it “seems counterproductive to furlough employees, then give raises.”
Gila college formed after the state set population and tax base thresholds for counties wanting to operate an independent college. Gila County falls beneath those thresholds, and so it must contract with another school for academic services.
Advocates are working to change the law.