Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone claims it is in good financial shape

By Wes Bowers.

Friday, November 21, 2008—Reprinted from Fremont Bulletin.

While cities and school districts scramble to cut and balance their respective budgets to fall inline with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent proposals, Ohlone Community College District officials say they're not worried about potential cuts this year.

Mike Calegari, Ohlone's vice president of administrative services, gave Ohlone's Board of Trustees an update on the California State Budget Nov. 12, one week after the governor declared a fiscal emergency.

Calegari said he and Ohlone President Gari Browning attended a conference call with community college presidents and superintendents from around the state shortly after the governor's declaration of a $24-billion revenue shortfall in California through the 2009/10-fiscal year. The governor's plan was to propose increasing taxes and reducing expenditures to solve the problem.

Calegari said California community colleges could expect to see $332 million in reductions this year.

Those reductions will come in the form of a reduction to cost of living adjustments.

Calegari said the governor's proposal includes eliminating a .68 percent cost of living increase to community college employees, which would give $40 million back to the state's 2007/08 general fund.

Schwarzenegger has also proposed a $292 million reduction to general proportionments, and has asked community college districts to redirect categorical funds to their general funds to address the general proportionment reduction.

"For 2008/2009 we're in relatively good shape to absorb mid-year cuts up to 5 percent in our current reserves," Calegari said. "We can withstand cuts, one-time reductions, and use our one-time reserves to generate those funds."

He added for 2009/10, all available options for budget reductions must be on the table, depending on the severity of the state budget.

Those options include a hiring freeze, voluntary time off, golden handshakes and cuts to programs, among others.

"We'll be planning for the worst but hoping for the best," he said. "The fiscal crisis is not just relegated to California, so it's going to be a while before we dig ourselves out of this. But in the meantime we want to keep our doors open."

The board didn't discuss Calegari's update, as board President Garrett Yee said it was best to discuss the budget at a later date.

"Things have been changing daily and Dr. Browning has given (the board) frequent updates," he said. "But I don't want to get into a dialogue about the Ôwhat ifs' with this because it's only an update."

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