NLC makes big cuts to balance budget
By Jill Earl
DAWSON CREEK- The Northern Lights College’s Board of Governors approved their 2012-2013 budget April 11, overcoming $1.9 million in budget cutbacks.
The College was faced with increased costs, including: regular salary increase for staff members, 1.5 per cent increase in the cost of employee benefits, amortization on capital costs, and a nine per cent increase in the cost of utilities.
As a result the college has had to take six steps to meet budget demands: they have accepted early retirement or voluntary termination from 12 staff members, increased fees for living in the Dawson Creek and Fort St. John campus residences, increased domestic tuition rates by two per cent, cancelled the Geomatics Engineering Technology program due to low enrollment, searched for new funding sources, and will eliminate some current positions resulting in the layoff of some staff members.
“Decisions of this magnitude, especially when they impact members of the College community, are only undertaken as an absolute last resort…The College’s budget managers examined every area of the budget to find all savings possible before involuntary staffing decisions were considered. Unfortunately, we were forced to make decisions that went deeper than we had originally anticipated,” said Laurie Rancourt, President and CEO of Northern Lights College, in the press release.
14.32 full-time equivalent position including early retirement and voluntary terminations at all levels of the college are impacted.
“There are a number of positions that are not replaced, so that allows us to make sure that we’re able to cut that way, the other thing that it does is provide vacancies in some cases, so where we do have to proceed to layoff but we need to keep other positions for strategic reasons, it provides options for individuals whose position may be eliminated they can fill maybe some of those vacancies,” Rancourt said.
During the year the College’s budget may be under more pressure depending on the confirmation of funding from the Industry Training Authority, the results of bargaining for a new collective agreements with the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union, and the results of finding resources to cover funding reductions starting in 2013-2014 announced in the Provincial Budget.
B.C.’s budget produced by the Ministry of Finance on Feb. 21 indicates that while the number of degrees and diplomas awarded in B.C. has been increasing each year since 2004, spending by post-secondary institutions has been growing less rapidly. The budget report says that the portion funded to post secondary institutions from the Ministry of Advanced Education has been constant since 2009/2010.
The budget’s three year fiscal plan, intends to cut $20 million of funding in 2013/2014 and another $30 million of funding in 2014/2015. The Ministry of Finance notes that total annual spending in the provinces 25 post-secondary institutes is over $5 billion, and cutting $50 million represents less then one per cent of their total annual costs.
The government urges these institutions to reduce their spending in administrative costs including travel expenses, executive overhead, and support services instead of expenditures related to programs. Institutes will have a year to plan for the decrease, as this year’s post-secondary institution budget has increased nine million, from $1,963,000,000 last year to $1,972,000,000 this year.
The Advanced Education Grant funds approximately 57 per cent of NLC’s 2012/2013 budget. Rancourt says that next year’s decrease will add more pressure to their budget, but hopes to work closely with partners to ensure efficiency.
“It definitely adds pressure to the budget as we go forward particularly given that we’ve had status quo budgets over the last few years but what it means is to a certain extent knowing now gives us the time to really have a look and make sure that we’re operating as efficiently as possible. It gives a chance to make sure that working with our northern post-secondary partners, we’re making sure that we’re working as collaboratively as possible to make sure we’re being as efficient as we can,” she said.
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