April 28, 2017

All options for revenue increases and expenditure reductions for fiscal year 2018 are being considered according to President Dr. Billy Stewart as East Central Community College (ECCC) prepares to deal with a more than $1 million reduction in state appropriations in the upcoming fiscal year. The college is anticipating a reduction of $1,042,151 when the 2018 fiscal year begins on July 1, 2017, which represents a 9.61 percent decrease in state appropriations compared to the original figure from the 2017 fiscal year.

ECCC experienced reductions in state appropriations totaling $642,103 during the current 2017 fiscal year that began July 1, 2016. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant announced those four cuts in September, January, February and March. “Effective fiscal planning and budget management allowed us to withstand the four separate cuts during this current fiscal year without a major disruption in our programs and services,” Stewart said. “However, the anticipated reduction in our fiscal year 2018 state appropriations beginning July 1, 2017, will require us to both increase revenue and curtail expenditures.”

Stewart said the college’s Budget Committee and Finance Council, along with the Executive Council administrative team, have been working on a plan to address the anticipated cuts going forward, and he will present those recommendations to the ECCC Board of Trustees at its May meeting.

“Everything related to increasing revenue and decreasing expenditures is on the table as we prepare a plan to address the budget reductions,” explained Stewart. “All the while, we are mindful of doing everything we can to minimize the impact on the outstanding education and services we provide our students and our five-county district.”

Stewart said that potential strategies to address such a significant shortfall in revenue include several suggestions from college faculty and staff.

“In late February and early March, we surveyed our faculty and staff to seek their ideas on short-term and long-term ways to increase revenues and to decrease expenditures,” he explained. “We received hundreds of unselfish suggestions, some of which we will be incorporating into the budget reduction plan I present to the Board of Trustees in May.”

Stewart said the budget plan he presents to the Board of Trustees will include more than the anticipated fiscal year 2018 reduction in state appropriations so that ECCC is prepared going forward for any mid-year cuts such as those the college experienced during this current fiscal year.

“Based on the potential revenue shortfall and the implementation of new tax cuts during fiscal year 2018, we must be prepared for additional budget cuts that may come during the next fiscal year, so our plan will include strategies aimed at addressing an approximate shortfall of $1.5 to $1.6 million during fiscal year 2018.”

Stewart said that several offices and departments on campus already have been affected as six position openings in the areas of faculty, professional, administrative support, and institutional support staff will not be filled and current employees are absorbing the workload in those areas.

“ECCC is not alone as there are extremely difficult financial challenges all across the state of Mississippi,” Stewart said. “I anticipate that the recommendations we present to the Board of Trustees will have an impact throughout the college, just as I anticipate that being the case at every institution of higher education in our state. However, our top priority is ensuring that our students continue to receive the best community college education in the state with the services they need to succeed both here and in the future.”