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Board contemplates cost-cutting moves

WESSON – Cost-saving and revenue-increasing options remain onthe table as Copiah-Lincoln County College officials prepare for anew year budget that could be around $1 million less than thisyear.

“It’s highly likely we’re going to have a reduction in staterevenue,” said Dr. Steve Wells, chairman of the board of trusteesbudget and finance committee.

At Thursday’s board meeting, Wells said a Legislative BudgetOffice funding level would mean a loss to Co-Lin of just over $1million. Co-Lin officials anticipated that would be a “worst-casescenario.”

Under pending legislation, the loss to the school would be$857,000, said Co-Lin President Dr. Howell Garner. School officialssaid that would still be a “major amount of money” to addressduring budget work.

Garner said funding for community colleges and other stateagencies is uncertain until lawmakers address the Medicaidsituation. Wells said the budget committee will review availableinformation at a meeting later this month before hearing budgetrequests from college personnel in early April.

“Hard decisions will have to be made on which ones are approvedand which ones will have to be delayed until a later date,” Wellssaid.

Following the meeting, Wells identified several of the budgetoptions being considered.

On the cost-savings side, Wells mentioned leaving some vacantemployee positions unfilled. He also cited the possibility of notpursuing some planned equipment purchases.

Regarding revenue, Wells said tuition increases could be lookedat if other community colleges are doing the same.

In other business Thursday, trustees agreed to develop a newtelephone system for the college. Thelma Newsome, chairwoman of theboard’s transportation and utilities committee, said the proposalwill cost $80,000 initially.

“After that initial cost, there will be a saving of $80,000 ayear,” Newsome said.

Garner said the system will utilize new technology and provide abetter voice mail system for college personnel. Due to upgrades, hesaid the savings may not be $80,000 a year, but they would still besignificant.

“And it would be a much improved phone system,” Garner said.

Also Thursday, Dr. Billy Stewart updated trustees on the statusof the Simpson County center under construction there.

“We’re working very hard to make that a success,” the deansaid.

Stewart said the building is taking shape and an access roadfrom Highway 49 had been completed. He also mentioned visited tocounty high schools to promote the center.

“Everybody in Simpson County seems to be very supportive ofthis,” Stewart said.