College Wrestles With Cost To Maintain Land

GCC gains control of its land but at the cost of losing a longstanding $300,000 subsidy from Gila County

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Newly responsible for the land and buildings the Gila Community College (GCC) sits on, the GCC staff and board members firmed up details on the deed, verified its insurance, and explored what to do with the money from the sale of land to the Rim Country Education Alliance (SLE) at a recent board meeting.

“I feel this was a huge step for our district to chart our future,” said Stephen Cullen, senior dean for GCC.

Yet the question still remains: how will GCC each year come up with the $300,000 needed to maintain its campus after the county stops footing the bill in June.

The county has been subsidizing GCC’s operations ever since the provisional district was formed, as well as holding title to the five acres on which the campus sits and an adjacent 25 acres reserved for future expansion.

However in June, unless GCC can negotiate another year of coverage, the college will need to find that money somewhere else.

With a budget already behind by $630,000, a 35 percent cut in state support and shrinking property tax revenue, finding those dollars will prove a challenge.

Despite the elephant in the room, the GCC board focused on what it could accomplish at the meeting.

Cullen reported that the insurance policy purchased by Eastern Arizona College (EAC), the college granting GCC accreditation and management services, covered not only the buildings on the properties, but employee theft, general liability, flood, earthquake and accident coverage.

“I think this is a comprehensive plan,” said Cullen.

Tom Loeffler and Larry Stephenson had expressed concern about the insurance policy when land transfer talks started last year. Stephenson still wants to see the policy in writing after Cullen’s report.

“I’d like to know that we are covered in writing, especially with our new status as land owners,” said Stephenson, president of the board.

Cullen also obtained the legal description of the land on the quitclaim deed from the county to GCC. The original document had only included a vague description of the proposed property, said Cullen.

“You should have a legal description (in the board paperwork), of the land at the north and the south of the county,” said Cullen.

The last item of business had to do with the proceeds from the land sale to the SLE.

“We need to get creative on how to use this special money and segregate it into a separate fund once and if the money comes to us,” said Stephenson.

Loeffler suggested investing in technology to expand virtual classroom capability. Cullen felt it smart to separate the money from the general management and operations account.

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