The Board of Regents junked yesterday the management's budget proposal that included adjusting the salaries and wages of employees next fiscal year. Instead, it approved the submission of a “conservative” budget to the Office of Management and Budget amounting to $6.3 million for fiscal year 2014.
During yesterday's special meeting, the board's fiscal committee chair, Frank Rabauliman, disclosed that his panel received and reviewed four budget proposals from management, some of which included salary hikes for college personnel.
However, he said the committee decided not to recommend one particular proposal to give the full board the opportunity to select the best option.
Regent William Torres raised concerns about the salary adjustments, citing its implications on the compensation policy of the college.
“There's major policy implications in these proposals,” said Torres, adding that NMC must also adhere to the directive from Capital Hill regarding salary hikes and adjustments.
After a 15-minute closed-door session, board members unanimously adopted one of the budget proposals, which requests a $6.3 million budget for 2014.
NMC president Sharon Y. Hart, Ph.D., right after the vote, expressed disappointment over the regents' choice to thumb down any of the proposals that recommended a salary hike for personnel.
“I am concerned with our accreditation.being able to keep and find people for this institution because of the salaries. We understand the difficult economic times but at the same time, we have other issues that we need to deal with,” said Hart during deliberations.
Hart informed the board that the Accrediting Commission for Colleges and Junior Colleges notified NMC this week that it will continue to monitor the institution's financial sustainability.
Based on the other budget proposals, documents included a comparative analysis of NMC's salary structure with peer institutions. The documents indicate that there's a wide “equity gap” in the salary scale being received by NMC personnel.
11 critical posts to be filled
In his presentation to the board yesterday, dean of administration Dave Attao disclosed that the $6.326 million proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 is composed of the following elements: $5.571 million for personnel and benefits; $700,000 for utilities; and $55,712 for all others.
NMC's budget this fiscal year is at $5.2 million. The college had asked the central government for $7.9 million.
Attao described the $6.3 million budget plan as “bare bones” and that no salary adjustment is anticipated.
He said that funding for the hiring of 11 critically needed positions for accreditation are factored in. Among these positions are the chief financial administrative officer, information technology director and support staff, and other administrative capacities.
The fiscal year 2014 budget submission will fund 118 positions, of which 107 are currently filled. The 118 positions, he said, is a drastic drop from last year's 155 FTEs, of which 130 were filled.
According to Attao, a budget below $4.9 million or $5.2 million for NMC will mean putting the institution's accreditation at risk again.
NMC has only until October this year to rectify all deficiencies cited by the accrediting commission or its accreditation will be revoked next year.
He told Saipan Tribune that all four budget proposals endorsed to the committee were reviewed by the college councils and governance.
NMC has two main funding sources: local appropriation mainly for its personnel salaries and the tuition and fees of students, which cover the college's operations and other programs.