Finally — We Understand

GCC board adopts new format for budget reporting after years of frustrated confusion

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“... EAC has told us how to spend our dollars. I’m trying to give us some direction ...” Larry Stephenson GCC district president

After years of fruitless frustration, the Gila Community College Board may finally get financial reports it can understand.

But don’t get too excited: It still doesn’t actually have any rules or policies.

The GCC board last week, in a marathon afternoon meeting, unanimously adopted a new report format in hopes it will finally understand its own budget.

The new, two-page format provides year-to-date spending and revenue numbers for each of the three campuses, located in Payson, Globe and on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.

Board members have complained for years about the periodic, 50-page financial reports provided by Eastern Arizona College, which provides credentials, staffing and management for GCC because it is a provisional community college.

Board members from Payson have repeatedly complained that they can’t make heads or tails of the thick, confusing EAC report. As a result, they have had to accept EAC’s dictates when it comes to tuition, furloughs, budget cuts, new courses and other issues.

However, the terms and tenor of the board meetings have changed dramatically since long-time president Bob Ashford decided to step down and let board member Larry Stephenson take over.

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Tom Loeffler GCC board member

One of the first orders of business was to ask EAC to provide a financial report the board members could understand, especially when it comes to a breakdown of costs by campus, revenue from tuition and other sources and the administrative overhead. The EAC contract tacks on a 25-percent overhead charge on everything that GCC spends.

“This is much more clear,” said Stephenson. “I really couldn’t figure out the previous report form.”

“Much better,” said board member Tom Loeffler, “much better.”

However, the template provided to the board at its meeting last week had dummy numbers inserted. Future reports will input the up-to-date numbers, said administrators.

But the three board members attending the meeting gave the format the thumbs up.

“I commend you and apologize for the number of hours you have had to spend on it — this will give us a much clearer idea,” said Stephenson.

On the other hand, the board has still made no move to adopt new policies and procedures, which it repealed wholesale more than a year ago.

The board repealed all of the policies relating to the board shortly before a split vote that reappointed Ashford as president. The repealed rules would have prevented him from serving another term.

However, despite the change in the control of the board that has resulted in much longer, friendlier meetings, the board has not yet even discussed whether it ought to have rules and procedures.

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