The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees met May 2 to discuss the proposed budget for 2022-2023.
The meeting started off with a presentation by Lisa Freiburger, GRCC’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, that focused on the general fund of the institution. Towards the end, they discussed the ancillary fund as well.
Also discussed was the closing of the 2021-2022 budget, with special emphasis on the upcoming revenue from the summer semester’s enrollment.
“Right now, our billing units are coming in a bit lower than anticipated for this first summer session,” Freiburger said. “They’re not all the way in yet. We do not have a final solution, and we, of course, have a second summer session, so we have a possibility to see some increase there.”
They also spoke about other revenue streams, such as property taxes and the interest rate environment as well. Property taxes are coming in strong and it seems that interest rates will continue to grow, which will result in an unrealized loss for GRCC’s portfolio.
Freiburger then outlined the various federal stimulus funding that GRCC has received and what they were used for this past year.
“We have three rounds of funding, all out of the higher education funding stream, and each of those had a student allocation, an institutional allocation, and an additional smaller allocation related to our school improvement funding stream,” Freiberger said.
The board reported $19.8 million in funding that was transferred directly into the hands of students, which went into childcare and transportation and other impact issues stemming from the pandemic.
“We provided vaccine incentives for students, and we also used those (funds) to upgrade indoor air quality through air purification systems and several major HVAC projects,” Freiburger said. “We have upgraded classroom furniture across the institution to allow for more flexibility and social distancing options in classrooms.”
Another topic touched on was the amount of vacant positions in the college, which Freiburger referred to as a “savings (of) $500,000.” The flipside of this, the lack of personnel in these roles, was not touched on.
Freiburger also spoke on potential increased expenditures, such as adding a new position into the Student Life office to assist students, which would cost $70,000. In addition, a proposal for $100,000 to go into athletics was also mentioned. Ideally, it would be used for increased travel for GRCC athletes.
After that, a $160,000 increase was proposed to do mandatory maintenance on the software systems employed at GRCC. The board would also like to bring on a Michigan Health and Human Services associate to support students. This would cost the college $80,000.
Secretary Kathleen Bruinsma asked Freiburger to elaborate further on the addition of the MHHS position. “Is that related to the needs we have seen during (the pandemic)? Can you maybe talk about what led to that investment?”
President Bill Pink interjected here to give some background on the addition of this position in the ongoing budget for 2021-2022. “One of the things we were realizing, in our student life area, the need for some of our students to have that level of support, in the form of a caseworker… would help us tremendously,” Pink said.
Previously, students would be sent off campus for these types of needs, but Pink noted, “In pandemic days, that need for an (in-house caseworker) seemed to rise.”
Among other proposed increases, one notable one was $12,000 for campus police equipment, which was described as a “basic equipment upgrade.”
For the 2022-2023, preliminary general fund scenario, GRCC is projecting total revenues to be $119.6 million, with the total projected expenses to be $119.5 million. Given the larger financial picture, this leaves the school with a $50,000 surplus and an ending net assets of $22 million.
“With that, what we will be bringing to you in June for your consideration is, in essence, a balanced budget,” Freiburger said.
Freiburger also touched on the June 13 meeting where the actual budget proposal will be brought to the board for adopting. The goals for that meeting include approving the tax levy, and considering salary increases for the Meet and Confer group.
After the budget presentation ended, Vice Chairperson Kenyatta Brame addressed the group about commencment and the success of the end of the year festivities.
“We had a great ceremony last week for graduation,” Brame said. “I think the Ford Fieldhouse has to be the happiest place on earth (during graduation).”
Trustee Salvador Lopez closed the meeting out by thanking President Pink for his involvement in planning the ceremony and festivities for the students’ graduation as well.
The meeting adjourned directly after that. To watch the entire meeting, click here.