Western Nevada College's budget proposal criticized

CARSON CITY— Western Nevada College President Carol Lucey was chastised by some members of the Board of Regents on Thursday for what they viewed as her failure to properly plan for the budget impact of a new funding formula.

One member of the board characterized what Lucey submitted as a “protest” budget that did not comply with a request for strategic planning on how to address funding reductions to the college, which services Carson City and surrounding rural areas.

Regents, meeting in Elko, rejected her budget proposal and asked Lucey to return with a new plan at a special meeting in October.

Lucey announced in July she was retiring at the end of this fiscal year, if not before, because of cuts to the college budget that resulted from legislative approval of the new funding formula this year. The new formula shifted state support to colleges in Southern Nevada to correct for past funding inequities.

Regent Ron Knecht, who represents northwestern Nevada, said the three rural and Northern Nevada two-year colleges have been treated unfairly.

Great Basin College saw a total budget reduction from last year to this year of 3.8 percent, Truckee Meadows in Reno declined by 4.9 percent and Western Nevada saw a reduction of 8.2 percent, he said. Other institutions saw growth in their budgets, he said.

“I submit, Mr. Chairman, that this is not a healthy, fair or efficient result taken in toto,” Knecht said.

But Regent Michael Wixom told Lucey that she failed to follow the directive of the board to plan for the effects of the new formula.

Lucey said part of her plan is to seek funding from the counties affected by the budget cuts.

“My strategic plan, frankly, is to say to the counties: Do you want a campus in Fallon? Do you want a campus in Douglas County? Carson City, do you want to preserve an institution that can provide full support to students in Carson City? We need your help.”

Wixom asked: “So you expect the counties to just come forward with tax revenue within the next 18 months?”

Lucey replied: “I don’t know.”

Wixom said everyone knew the formula changes were coming.

“And what I’m hearing today is a refusal to respond to what I think is a request that is reasonable by the chancellor and a direction by the board,” he said.

Other institutions did respond to the request, Wixom said.

Regent Rick Trachok said that if other presidents had responded over the past six years as Lucey did, “we would be in quite a state today.” The plan is put together with baling wire and duct tape, he said.

Regent Andrea Anderson said getting county support for the budget would take years.

“This is kind of a protest, I think, budget, more than it is something that is really workable,” she said.

Knecht said it is difficult to strategically plan in the face of ongoing cuts.

Both Western Nevada and Great Basin face deeper cuts in the next budget cycle, he said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801


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