Town Hall Meetings Frequently Asked Questions


  • What expectations are there for reductions if the tax measures are not sustained in the January 2010 election?
    If the legislatures tax measures are not sustained in the election, there could be a possible reduction of $730 million, which could mean additional cuts to the College budget. If the tax measures are not sustained, the legislature will have to determine what areas of the budget to reduce to make up that deficit. Community colleges could receive up to a $24 million reduction. Community college funding represents 3% of the 2009-10 State budget. 
  • Explain the voting for tax measures 66 and 67 in the January 2010 election.
    To sustain the legislators actions to increase the corporate minimum tax for businesses and increase tax rates on household incomes above $250,000, a voter must vote yes. To overturn the legislators actions, a voter must vote no. 
  • What is the worst case scenario if the tax increases are not sustained?
    The College could experience up to a $3-million reduction in state funding. 
  • This is not the first time the College has been through this, and we survived. What is different this time?
    Three things make this a very serious situation with unknown variables making it difficult to plan:
    1. The January 2010 election 
    2. The possibility of the economic crisis worsening and the legislature determining in February 2010 that there will be more reductions to the community college budgets 
    3. The Colleges estimated ending fund balance of less than $900,000

       
     
  • How do we communicate this message internally and externally? How do we make the connection between the state cuts and implications to the College?
    • Education and communication 
    • Transparency and training employees to become knowledgeable about the budget 
    • Periodic updates on the financial situation 
    • Creation of an Audit committee and a Finance Advisory committee 
    • Additional responses are available at www.mhcc.edu/budget

       
     
  • How can we best learn more about the budget to minimize rumors?
    JoAnn Zahn has already been working with faculty groups to increase transparency. This will continue with employees college-wide. 
  • Can we run a campaign to message this to the community?
    No. The College does not have money to spend on a campaign. We will rely heavily on the Oregon Community College Association for messaging to the legislators, partnering with our K-12 schools and providing information at community meetings and on our Web site. Additional responses are available at www.mhcc.edu/budget. 
     
  • What role will the MHCC District Board of Education play in getting the message out to the community?
    • The Board passed a resolution at the last Board meeting in favor of sustaining the tax increases. 
    • The Board will determine other ways it can communicate with the community. 
     
  • How are the monies received for Go Oregon and other stimulus dollars being used?
    These stimulus dollars are one-time monies for improvement of facilities. They dont replace the operating and personnel funds that have been reduced at the state level. 
  • Why do we need program reviews?
    We have more students and increasing revenues from tuition, but the Colleges cost of instruction is one of the highest in the state. To ensure we are meeting the needs of the community, it is important to review programs, not for elimination, but to enhance those that are working well and improve/re-invent those that are not. Strategic planning is key in this process.
     
  • How much lower can the ending fund balance go before catastrophe hits? Is having a $900,000 reserve REALLY critical?
    • There is no guarantee things will get better, and it is imperative to do everything we can to work through the processes and begin pointing the arrows up. 
    • It is imperative to spend within available resources. The College anticipates $22.6 million in FY 2009-10 from state support. Approximately 80 percent of the general fund budget is salaries and benefits. The average monthly payroll is more than $3 million. 
    • If there is a major catastrophe, there would be no funds to cover it, so the ending fund balance has to be increased to protect the College. As an example, the windstorm last year cost the College $100,000 to clean up the trees that were blown down.

       
     
  • How do we manage our resources effectively?
    We have to manage the resources we have more effectively. With a $52 million budget, $22.6 million from the state and approximately 80 percent expended for salaries and benefits, we need to make responsible decisions and manage our limited resources in a more strategic way. 
  • How are other community colleges around the state dealing with this?
    All of the community colleges are struggling at this time, but I do not have any specific information on how they are dealing with it. We are all affected by the state cuts; however, our ending fund balance is the lowest in the state, which makes it worse for us. 
  • Discuss our electrical and seismic issues in greater detail?
    • Electrical conductors installed from 17th Street to the Gresham Campus spine more than 40 years ago were put in without conduit and are beginning to fray. Portland General Electric (PGE) estimates it will cost $2.2 million to replace the faulty equipment and wiring. 
    • Senate Bills 2-5 (2005) established a seismic rehabilitation program for public education buildings and emergency services buildings in the State of Oregon. Senate Bill 3 established the grant program to make funds available for seismic rehabilitation. Senate Bill 4 established the completion date for public education buildings as January 2032. 
    • The City of Gresham is working with our facilities personnel to identify the thresholds of changes we make in our remodeling projects that will require seismic upgrades. 
     
  • Of the 80 percent spent on salaries, what is the breakdown for full- and part-time faculty, administrators/managers/confidential and classified groups?

Personnel Costs by Employee Group

(In Thousands)

 

 

 

Part Time Hourly

 $2,057

4.8%

Student Aid

 $279

0.7%

Part-time Faculty & Tutors

 $4,928

11.5%

Full-time Faculty

 $17,060

39.8%

Non-represented

 $6,652

15.5%

Classified

 $11,867

27.7%

Total Personnel:

 $42,843

100.0%

  • How are we partnering with the Foundation and others to increase funding?
    • The Foundation is preparing itself to attract corporate and private donors. 
    • The Foundation will be asked to fund the hiring of a full-time grant writer for the next two years to help us apply for some of the federal stimulus monies available and coordinate all grant writing throughout the College. With the number of grant opportunities nationwide, we will see a return on investment many times over. 
     
  • Why not identify grant writers among the faculty to do this?
    A grant writer will be a facilitator to bring experts together. Faculty would be part of the group of experts, along with grant writers from other departments. This group would work with the Foundation grant writer to ensure success in receiving as many grants as possible. 
  • Are we waiting until a grant writer is hired in order to pursue grants?
    We are actively pursuing external funding opportunities. According to College Advancement, we currently have 35 grants that have been submitted for funding or are in the process of submission as of Oct. 27, 2009. 
  • What can we and our Board do to get an endowment for the Aquatic Center to cover ongoing maintenance and upgrades?
    The Colleges priorities will direct areas of focus for which we (through the MHCC Foundation) will seek external funding, including endowments. In addition, the campus master planning steering committee is currently identifying future campus naming opportunities and policies. 
  • What are some possibilities to increase revenue?
    • Place energy credit refunds into the short-term maintenance fund 
    • Hire a grant writer (funded by the Foundation) 
    • Increase tuition/differential tuition 
    • Explore ways to reduce health care premium costs 
    • Explore with the employee groups leadership ways to shorten the school year 
    • Increase fees 
    • Explore student-paid parking 
    • Explore with the faculty association leadership ways to reduce the cost of instruction 
    • Utilize space better 
    • Privatize parts of the College, e.g. Workforce Development (create a 501c3) 
    • Lease the back 40, e.g., to Legacy or Providence, who would develop an urgent care facility where our nursing students could work. This type of partnership would enhance our mission and bring in revenue. 
    • Find ways to increase revenue 
    • Increase tuition for distance learning classes 
    • Review purchasing control

       
     
  • How do we utilize the indirect funds we collect from grant programs?
    The indirect cost reimbursements that we receive from grant programs help cover the costs associated with having grant programs such as fiscal, human resources, warehouse and information technology staff. One million additional dollars are transferred each year to the general fund. 
  • How is the Information Technology remodel justified in this time of crisis?
    • There have been a number of catastrophes over the last few months with the systems going down. 
    • The current information technology (IT) infrastructure is struggling to maintain services for the College. 
    • IT services are spread all over the College rather than in a central place. 
    • The servers are in an insecure area at the moment. 
    • The servers were recently damaged from dust due to the Go Oregon projects, and it cost $60,000 from the technology fee to clean them. 
    • The remodel will be paid for out of the budgeted $800,000 maintenance fund. With this remodel and other infrastructure repairs, this fund will be depleted. 
    • The College cannot operate without a strong, functional IT infrastructure. 
    • This is one of the tough decisions that we have to make to keep the College operating and moving forward to serve students.

       
     
  • Has there ever been a cost-benefit analysis on MHCCs contribution to the community?
    Yes. The College participated in a study in 2006 identifying the socio-economic benefits to the communities we serve. The study demonstrates that MHCC is a sound investment from multiple perspectives. The College enriches the lives of students and increases their lifetime incomes; benefits taxpayers by generating increased tax revenues from an enlarged economy and reducing the demand for taxpayer-supported social services; and contributes to the vitality of both the local and state economies. Here is a snapshot:

     Benefits At A Glance 

     
  • How do we compare to other community colleges in our area in regard to tuition?
    Up until a couple of years ago, our tuition was higher than many other community colleges in Oregon. We are now $3 less than Portland Community College (PCC) and $1 less than Clackamas Community College. 
  • How much of our budget relies on property taxes in our district?
    Property taxes account for 18 percent of the Colleges revenue budget. 
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 Last Modified: 5/3/2012 10:19:53 AM