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Westmoreland

WCCC tentative budget decreases

Westmoreland County Community College trustees approved a preliminary $38.53 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year during its meeting on Wednesday.

The spending plan represents a roughly 12-percent decrease in spending from this year’s $38.72 million budget. The preliminary budget is open for public comment until June 25, when trustees will vote on its final adoption.

Included in the proposed budget are 3-percent pay raises for salaried administrators, staff and athletics coaches as well as for hourly support staff and part-time employees. Faculty and clerical workers will also receive 3-percent raises, according to their union contracts.

“We struggled and worked very hard to (develop) this budget,” said trustee Gene Ciafre. “It was a very challenging budget and will continue to be a challenging budget next year.”

The budget assumes flat funding from Westmoreland County and the state as well as level enrollment and slightly increased revenue from tuition and fees, which trustees voted to raise last month, said Ron Eberhardt, vice president of administrative services.

“I think most of the community colleges in Pennsylvania, if not all, are fighting for enrollment,” Eberhardt said. “We’re all focusing on … getting those students, so that will be challenging.”

President Daniel Obara said enrollment has declined so far for next year, but officials are continuing to track those numbers.

“I do think there’s a reasonable chance we’re going to level off this year,” Obara said.

In April, trustees voted to raise tuition $3 per credit, bringing tuition to $93 per credit hour for county residents beginning this fall. Out-of-county residents will pay $186 per credit and out-of-state residents will pay $279 per credit starting in the fall.

Eberhardt said pay raises and medical benefits are not part of the challenge in balancing the budget, but that vacant positions are constantly evaluated.

“With retirements come the decision of whether, if and how we’re going to fill those positions, so it’s a continuous process that we monitor,” Eberhardt said.

In other business, trustees approved the purchase of a $13,078 reconditioned 2011 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor for the Westmoreland County Park Police to use on the college’s main campus near Youngwood. Park Police begin providing armed security services on campus Monday.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or [email protected].


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