Budget officials seek more information; Students will only support $1.88 tuition increase

Lane’s budget committee will meet at least once more to grapple with a $12.6 million shortfall in the college’s 2014-15 budget.

Incoming student government President Michael Weed addressed budget committee members for the first time at their May 21 meeting. He took the opportunity to reiterate the student government’s position, that the committee should vote against any tuition increase above $1.88 per credit, in addition to the $2-per-credit inflationary increase the board approved earlier this year.

Faculty union President Jim Salt also spoke at the meeting, where he presented data from the last 11 years that indicated the average year-end balance of the college’s reserve fund is approximately $8.8 million.

Salt asked the committee if this indicates a crisis.

“Put it in context,” he said. “Let the data decide that.”

Budget Committee member Chris Matson said the balance of the reserve fund was not included in documents distributed to committee members.

Lane President Mary Spilde said the fund is counted as revenue in the audit, and the reserves were carried over to the beginning of the next year’s costs.

“If there’s money outside of the purview of the Budget Committee, we need to see that,” Matson said.

Salt later said he was concerned that the information provided to committee members was insufficient, especially when it came to the costs and benefits of cutting classes taught by part-time instructors, some of which might be profitable or prerequisites for other profitable classes.

“It’s happening, with no public info on it,” Salt said.

“(The budget committee is) in a position to require this.”

Most who spoke at the meeting agreed that the committee, instructors and students must work together collaboratively.

“There’s been a crisis budget every year since I’ve been on this board,” Matson said.

Board member Pat Albright agreed.

“Since I’ve been here, they’ve characterized budget planning as crisis management,” Albright said.

Budget talks will continue in the Building 3 boardroom on May 28 at 5:30 p.m.