Budget Crisis: Bellevue College budget reduction proposal released

SOURCE: Cole Estes/The Jibsheet
SOURCE: Cole Estes/The Jibsheet

In the upcoming six months, Bellevue College must close a deficit of over $5.4 million.

According to a letter addressed to the Campus Community by Vice President for Administrative Services Rachel Solemsaas, “…the cumulative shortfall for our college will rise to over $11 million from a base budget of $36 million in 2009.”

Currently BC has taken account the anticipated economic declines predicted by Washington Department of Revenue and have taken “both reductions and redistributions of base funds…of about 20 percent of our operational dollars.”

To ultimately reach a balanced budget, BC had to eliminate several vacant positions, make several reductions in several areas of operation, and even reduce faculty size: “While we are grateful that we did not have to reach more deeply in our organization, we are sad to report that there are a handful of people whose positions are listed as reductions.” The staff members were immediately notified by BC’s Human Resources department.

The letter provided several thorough charts of budget summaries. One chart indicated that BC has made $7,443,088 cuts to date. This information was made public back in Dec. 2010. However the cutting does not stop there.

“Deeper cuts are necessary for the next biennium to address a projected state deficit of $4.2 billion. The Governor released her proposed budget for the next biennium that includes an $89 million reduction to community colleges.”

This dramatic cut in community college funding will result in a 3 percent salary reduction for all faculty and employees.  It is clear that, “this is a fiscal challenge of unprecedented size and scale.”

Not only that but Gov. Chris Gregoire has, “proposed a 10 percent tuition increases for each year of the next biennium.” This tuition increase will without a doubt affect many students at BC. This increase, however, will reduce the overall budget cut to 5 percent.

The President’s staff has “carefully estimated our target reduction using different tuition revenue scenarios and opted to plan for a worst case scenario of $3.6 million.” The plan was formulated back in Oct. 2010. The plan includes two stages of reductions.

BC’s very large and popular Student Services are estimated to results in reductions of $500,187 and the President’s office is to lose $237,791.

For those who are interested in an opportunity to comment on the budget reduction proposal, there will be two budget hearings on Wednesday Feb. 2 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 and Thursday Feb. 3 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30. Both sessions will be held in room N201.

For additional information, attending a hearing is a place to start. If additional information is desired, please contact members of the President’s Staff or any member of the Planning Council.

Bellevue College students attended a Student Rally in Olympia on Thursday Jan. 27 to stop tuition increases. Look out for the complete coverage on the rally in next week’s issue.

Watch President Jean Floten’s full budget cuts address to Bellevue College at thejibsheet.com.