ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Regents discussed budget deficit during special meeting Thursday
Some members of the staff at Northern New Mexico College have agreed to take extra furlough days so lower-paid employees won’t be hit by budget-cutting measures.
School officials also are considering an across-the-board pay cut of about 2 percent for all staff, including administrators, as the school scrambles to cover a $1 million deficit for the current fiscal year.
Several faculty members attended a packed special meeting of the NNMC board of regents in Espanola on Thursday.
Tim Crone, a sociology and anthropology professor and president of the American Federation of Teachers union local, said the school is legally obligated to negotiate any change in terms of employment with the union.
But regents president Michael Branch said it was his view that the regents were within their rights to cut pay and mandate furloughs without consulting the union, since the school’s finances were at issue. But the board is seeking further guidance on its legal obligations, Branch said.
Domingo Sanchez III, hired as the college’s chief financial officer in January, has said the budget problems are a result of funding cuts in past years, although NNMC lost less than other colleges during the recent legislative session. A budget software program called Banner also has been a problem, Sanchez has indicated. The school’s annual budget is about $30 million.
Sanchez said Thursday that employees who make under $25,000 won’t be furloughed because enough other workers have offered to take an extra day off without pay.
Branch said the school will have to make final decisions on how to address the budget shortfall at the board’s regular meeting April 19, so changes can go into effect in time to balance the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends in June.
The board must also decide whether to raise tuition next year to help cover the decreases in funding into the future. NNMC Provost Tony Sena suggested increasing tuition for lower-division classes by about 9 percent, from $44.01 per credit hour to $62.80, and on upper-division classes by about two percent, from $97.20 per credit hour to $100.45.